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Ea loquuntur Pkopiietae Dei quae audiunt ab eo, 


Dei hominibus. 

Quid ergo? cum legimus, obliviscimur quemadmodum 







For 1886-1890 








First Edition 1892. Second Edition 1897 
Third Edition 1901. Reprinted 1906, 1907, 1909, 1910, 191 










Sttrsum dorUa. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


This volume contains the Lectures delivered upon 
the foundation of Bishop Warburton in the Chapel 
of Lincoln's Inn during the years 1886-1890, by 
the kind permission of the Benchers given in accord- 
ance with the desire of the Founder. The original 
Lectures have been in some cases re -written and 
expanded, and the series has been completed by the 
addition of Lectures not actually delivered. But it 
has seemed best to allow the book to retain the 
style and character given to it by the circumstances 
of its origin, rather than to recast it into a more 
formal shape. I had at one time intended to add 
some critical and exegetical notes to the Lectures ; 
but with a few exceptions this plan has been 
abandoned, partly because the volume had already 
grown to its full limits, and partly because I now 
hope that, for a portion of the field traversed, such 
notes may find a more suitable resting-place else- 


I desire to acknowledge most fully my obligations, 
direct and indirect, to the many authors whose works 
have been consulted during a long course of study. 
These Lectures lay no claim to originality, save in so 
far as I have endeavoured to make the statements 
contained in them my own by careful study of the 
prophetic writings themselves, with all the helps at 
my disposal so far as time allowed. But no critic 
can well be more sensible of the many defects of the 
volume than its author. He lays down his pen 
with the consciousness that the words of the son of 
Sirach, applied by St. Augustine to the study of the 
Psalter, are even more applicable to the study 
of the Prophets. When a man hath done, then he 
beginneth, and when he leaveth off, then he shall be 

It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that refer- 
ence is throughout intended to be made to the 
Eevised Version. In some cases, where the differ- 
ence of rendering is important, I have called attention 
to it by adding R V. to the reference. In actual 
quotations I have not scrupled to introduce fresh 
renderings where it seemed possible to express the 
meaning of the original more closely. I have, as a 

1 Ecclesiasticus xviii. 7. 


rule, restored Jehovah in place of Lord or God, 
which, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, our 
Versions generally substitute for the Sacred Name. 
The pronunciation of that Name as Jehovah, 
although not philologically defensible, is so far 
naturalised in our language that it cannot easily be 
displaced in favour of the presumably correct pro- 
nunciation Yahweh. But the correct pronunciation 
is a matter of small importance, compared with the 
recognition that it is a proper name, the sum- 
mary expression of God's revelation of Himself to 

The object of these Lectures is to give some 
account of the work of the Prophets in relation to 
their own times ; to shew, letting each of them, as 
far as possible, speak for himself, the contribution 
made by each to the progress of revelation ; to point 
out the unity in variety, and variety in unity, of 
their teaching, testifying alike to the one divine 
Source from which their inspiration was derived, 
and to the diversity in the human instruments 
through which He willed to communicate His. 
message. It may seem to some that the human, 
personal, circumstantial elements of prophecy have 
been unduly exaggerated, but I have desired always 
a 2 


to remember that while " Scripture speaks to men in 
their own language," 1 the " prophets of God speak 
what they hear from Him, and the prophet of God 
is nothing else but the enunciator of the words of 
God to men." 2 

It may seem further that, especially in view of 
the purpose of the Warburtonian Lecture as defined 
by its Founder, I have devoted too little attention to 
the consideration of special fulfilments of Prophecy. 
But if it be true, as I have lately eudeavoured to 
shew elsewhere, 3 that the evidential value of the 
Old Testament to the mind of the present day rests 
not merely or mainly on the fulfilment of specific 
and circumstantial prophecies, but on the whole 
drift and tendency of a manifold and complex pre- 
paration, in history, in life, in thought, pointing to 
an end which it foreshadowed, but could not describe, 
for which it prepared, but which it could not pro- 
duce, then the attempt to exhibit the distinctive 
characteristics of the teaching of the Prophets in 
relation to their own times may legitimately be 
regarded as a contribution towards the elucidation 
of the evidential value of the Old Testament. It 

1 Cp. St. Aug. c. Fausturn, xxxiii. 7. 

2 St. Aug. Quaest. inExod. c. 17. 

3 In a paper on The Evidential Value of the Old Testament, 
read at the Church Congress at Folkestone, 1892. 


was the function of the Prophets to prepare for the 
coming of Christ not less than to predict it ; and 
nothing can produce a firmer conviction of their 
divine mission, than the consideration of the way 
in which they were raised up from time to time to 
meet the actual needs of great crises in the history 
of Israel, as well as to point forward to the great 
purpose of the ages. If thereby we gain an increased 
conviction of the naturalness of Prophecy, we gain 
at the same time an increasing conviction of its 
supernaturalness. Adaptation not less than marvel 
is a characteristic of divine working ; and it is by 
studying the ways of God in history that we come 
to recognise His footprints. 

It has been said by an acute observer of move- 
ments of theological thought and Biblical study, 
that " the full rediscovering and full appropriating 
of the Old Testament are the special problem of our 
own day. . . . The fashioning of the methods by 
which the secret of the Old Testament is to be 
approached and elicited has taken many centuries. 
We are not yet agreed about it ; but I do not think 
that it is being too sanguine to feel that we are draw- 
ing nearer to it. We are beginning to feel the warmth 
and the life and the reality come back to those 
pale and shadowy figures. Isaiah and Hosea and 


Jeremiah no longer walk in a limbics Patrum, but 
we see them as they were among the forces by which 
they were actually surrounded. We see what they 
were as men ; we see what they were as exponents 
of a message from God; we see the grand and 
glorious ideas which stirred within them in all their 
richness and fulness, conditioned, yet not wholly 
conditioned, by the world of thought and action in 
which they moved. We see these ideas linking 
themselves together, stretching hands as it were 
across the ages, the root-principles of the Old Testa- 
ment running on into the New, and there attaining 
developments which may have been present to the 
Divine Mind — though they cannot have been present 
to the human instruments whose words went and 
came at its prompting." * 

The words are bold ; but at least they express the 
aim and desire of those who, while they advocate the 
most searching critical and historical study of the 
Old Testament, retain a firm belief that it is the 
inspired record of a unique divine revelation to 
the world. The interpretation of the Bible is 
not stationary but progressive. As successive cen- 
turies contributed to the construction of the Divine 
Library, so successive centuries must contribute to 

1 Sanday, The Oracles of God, pp. 118, 120. 


its interpretation. It must not be supposed that 
modern students of the Old Testament wish to 
depreciate the students of past generations, or to 
regard their own work as final. The answer of 
Jerome to the charges of innovation so fiercely hurled 
at him will be theirs. Quid igitur? damnamvs 
veteres ? minime : sed post priorum studia in domo 
Domini quid possum us laboramus} 

" It is no less true now than ever it has been, 
that the. surest means of religious advance is to be 
sought in renewed study of the Bible. What we 
need especially at this moment is freshness, a real 
getting at the heart of the matter instead of dally- 
ing with the outside. And I question if we shall 
get this in any better way than by approaching our 
task under the guidance of Criticism and History — 
of Criticism and History not, as too often, dissevered 
from, but united with, Eeligion." 2 

May these Lectures offer some help towards such 
a more real understanding of the Prophets ; and better 
still, may they direct their readers, if they shall find 
any, to such a diligent and attentive study of the 
Prophetic Books themselves, that, in the words of 

1 Prologus in Genesin (Tom. ix, p. 6). 
2 Sanday, op. cit. p. 126. 


Origen, they may feel, as they read, the traces of 
their inspiration, and gain a firmer conviction that 
they are in very truth no mere writings of men, hut 
the words of God. 

November 15, 1892. 


The present edition of this book does not differ 
substantially from the first, though it has been 
revised in detail throughout. In thus re-issuing the 
book without material change, I may seem to be 
disregarding the various criticisms which it has 
received. For the generally friendly tone of those 
criticisms I am deeply grateful, and I am by no 
means insensible to the force of many of them. But 
a work of this nature deals with many questions 
upon which difference of opinion is inevitable ; and 
its limits compel the slight treatment or entire 
omission of many topics which are undoubtedly 
important, and may to some seem indispensable for 
the proper treatment of the subject. It is possible 
that fresh study of disputed problems may lead to 
change of judgement, but the four years which have 
elapsed since the first publication of the book have 
been so fully occupied with other work that I have 
had no leisure for such a thorough re-examination of 


the wide field covered in these lectures as could 
alone justify me in abandoning opinions which 
were not hastily formed. I have reason to believe 
that, in spite of its many defects, the book has been 
found helpful, and I trust that it may continue to be 
of service, as an introduction to the study of the 
Prophets of Israel. Through their words God still 
reveals Himself to us as the All- Sovereign Ruler of 
the world, Who slowly yet surely carries His purposes 
onward to their fulfilment. As we ponder reverently 
on the marvellous patience and manifold wisdom of 
the methods by which from age to age He prepared 
the way for the supreme revelation of the Incarna- 
tion, faith is strengthened to believe that profound 
mystery; strengthened too to believe that with equally 
marvellous patience and manifold wisdom, He is 
even now from age to age carrying forward to its 
complete accomplishment all that the Incarnation 
implies for the whole of humanity. 


January 22, 1897. 




Introduction ...... 3 

Obadiah ...... 33 

Joel ....... 46 


Amos ....... 83 

Hosea . . . . . .109 

Isaiah the son of Amoz . , . 143 












Habakkuk . 



Jeremiah . 







Isaiah of the Exile 


Haggai and Zechariah . 



Zechariah ix-xiv 





Isaiah xxiv-xxvii ..... 479 


Malachi ....... 494 


Christ the Goal of Prophecy .... 517 

Chronological Table .... 532 

Index of some Passages commented on . 539 

General Index ..... 541 


ovSk yap Sl<\ 'lov&auovi /xovovs ot irpo^rJTai €7re/^7rovTO 
. . . 7racr?/s 6e T>ys oikov/a£V*/s t)(jav 8i8a<TKii\iov lepbv riys 
7T«pt Qeov yvwa-eojs Kai t?]s «utu ipv)(r]v 7roAtT€ias. 

For, indeed, it was not for the sake of the Jews alone 
that the prophets were sent . . . hut for the whole world 
they were a sacred school of knowledge concerning God and 
of spiritual life. 

S. Athanasius. 




God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by 
divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days 
spoken unto us in His Son. — Hebrews i. 1, 2. 

The opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews connexion 

and contrast 

affirm the connexion, while they contrast the char- oftheJewUh 

J and Chris- 

acter, of the Jewish and the Christian dispensa- ^^ttm 
tions. It was the same God who spoke in both, 
though the mode and the instruments of His com- 
munication with men in the two periods were widely 
different. Of old time, in the long period which pre- 
ceded the Incarnation, He spoke to the fathers in the 
prophets. The voices of that long succession of men 
whom He raised up from time to time through a 
period of more than a thousand years were the voice 
of God. In them He spoke by divers portions and 
in divers manners; or, as the inimitable words of 
the original 1 may be otherwise rendered, in many 

1 Tro\vfj.epu)S Kal TroXvTpdinjis. 


fragments and in many fashions. The revelation was 
diversified, fragmentary, imperfect ; here a little and 
there a little, line upon line, and precept upon pre- 
cept, as men needed and as they were able to bear it. 
But in these latter days He has spoken to us in a Son. 1 
Unity is contrasted with variety. In Him the many 
partial and fragmentary utterances are reconciled 
and united. He is the one supreme and final revela- 
tion of God. The Messenger is Himself the message. 
The whole of the New Testament is the delineation 
and interpretation of His Person and His Work. 
The one a There was an intimate and organic connexion be- 


/or the other, tween the two revelations. God, having spoken in the 

prophets . . . spoke in Sis Son. The first revelation 

was the necessary preparation for the second. The 

second revelation was the fore-ordained sequel of 

the first. This is not the peculiar doctrine of the 

author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is the 

unanimous teaching of the whole New Testament. 

Our Lord Himself repeatedly declared that the old 

dispensation looked forward to Him. Evangelists 

and Apostles were but following His example when 

they taught that in all its parts it was the manifold 

preparation for His Coming. If the Incarnation is 

indeed a fact, if God has indeed spoken to us in His 

Son, if the New Testament is in any degree a faithful 

1 This is the literal rendering of the Greek, in which the pronoun 
His is not expressed. It lays stress on the nature and quality of 
Christ, not upon His personality. The one who is a son is con- 
trasted with the many who were servants. 


record of His teaching and of the teaching of those 
who received their instruction from His lips, then 
the divine choice of the nation of Israel to be the 
object of a special discipline and the recipient of an 
unique revelation cannot possibly be called in ques- 
tion. The view which regards the religion of Israel 
as only "one of the principal religions of the world," 
maintaining that between it and all the other forms 
of religion " there exists no specific difference," ! is, 
to the believing Christian, absolutely untenable. 
For it assumes that all religions alike are but " so 
many manifestations of the religious spirit of man- 
kind," and that there is no such thing as a special 
divine revelation. Let us fully admit that God left 
not Himself vnthout witness among the heathen 
nations of antiquity ; that many strivings, and very 
noble strivings, after truth are to be found in other 
religions than that of Israel ; that these too in their 
appointed way formed part of the divine preparation 
for the Incarnation ; yet from the Christian point of 
view it is impossible to class them together. Chris- 
tianity stands apart from all other religions as the 
final revelation of God to man, and the religion of 
Israel stands apart from all other pre-Christian re- 
ligions as the special preparation for that unique 
event which is the fundamental fact of Christianity. 

The nation of Israel was the organ of a special The o.t. 

the inspired 

divine revelation, and the Old Testament is the r( ' c " nl '" 

this prepar- 
1 Kuenen, Religion of Israel, E.T., vol. i, p. 5. 

6 THE PURPOSE lect. 

divinely ordered record of that revelation. It can 
only be rightly understood when it is studied in the 
light of this specific purpose. Viewed as a history 
of the nation of Israel, it tantalises by its dis- 
appointing fragmentariness. It gives little or no 
account of many of the most important periods of 
national development. It affords little or no insight 
into many of the most instructive features of national 
life. Viewed as a literature, it is, as a whole, in- 
ferior to the literature of Greece and Koine. But 
when it is viewed as the record of the divine train- 
ing of the nation which was chosen to be the recipient 
of a special revelation, its peculiar characteristics 
receive their explanation. When it is viewed as the 
record of the revelation made to Israel and through 
Israel, in itself preparatory and imperfect, but ever 
looking forward to some future fuller manifestation 
of God to men, ever yearning for a real ' fulfilment,' 
its many voices are found to combine in a true har- 
mony. The Old Testament is unique as a national 
literature in virtue of the essential unity of spirit 
and purpose which characterises it notwithstanding 
the wide diversity of date and variety of form of its 
different elements; in virtue of the progressiveness 
with which its teaching advances, not indeed uni- 
formly or without any check or retrogression, but in 
the main and on the whole, from an outward and 
material to an inward and spiritual conception of 
religion ; in virtue of its steady outlook, in spite of 


manifold disappointments, towards an age to come, 
which forms the goal of divine purpose for Israel 
and for the world. Tins unity, this progressiveness, 
this hope, are rightly regarded as marks of its divine 
origin, and proofs of the inspiration of its authors. 

It was the office of Israel to prepare for Christ, 
and it is the function of the Old Testament to bear 
witness to Christ. But its message to the Christian 
Church is not exhausted in this its prophetic and 
propaedeutic character. It is placed in the hands of 
the Christian Church as still 'profitable for teaching, 
for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in 
righteousness. It has an abiding moral and spiritual 
value. For us who read it with the light of fuller 
revelation reflected back upon it, it bears a larger 
and deeper sense than that which those to whom its 
words were originally addressed could possibly have 


When this lecture was founded by Bishop War- Present 

position o) 

burton more than a century ago, 1 with the object tkeargti- 

J ° ° ment front 

of elucidating the evidential value of prophecy, the P r °P hec y- 
argument from prophecy and the argument from 
miracles were regarded as two of the most con- 
vincing proofs of the truth of Christianity. 2 In the 
previous century Pascal could say, "La plus grande 

1 In 1768. 
2 See e.g. Butler's Analogy, Part ii, ch. vii. 


des preuves de Jesus-Christ, ce sont les propheties." ] 
But in the present day miracles which were once 
appealed to as a ground of belief, are in many quarters 
treated as a hindrance to belief, while by many it is 
denied that there is any such clear correspondence 
between prophecy and its alleged fulfilment as to 
constitute a proof of the divine origin of Christianity. 
It is not my purpose to discuss the causes of this 
change of view at length. Scientific research has 
"placed in a clearer light the symmetry and order 
of external nature, and invested the idea of law with 
an absolute majesty inconceivable at an earlier time." 
A naturalistic theory of the world banishes God 
from the pages of history. Historical criticism chal- 
lenges the accuracy of ancient records. Deeply as 
the extreme results of these tendencies of modern 
thought are to be deplored, they have not been with- 
out a wholesome influence upon Christian thought. 
They have taught us to look for God's revelation of 
Himself in His ordinary not less than in His extra- 
ordinary modes of working. The fixed laws of Nature, 
unknown to an earlier age, are in a true sense powers 
which testify to the majesty of Him who established 
them and maintains them in operation. The pheno- 
mena of Nature are signs which manifest His glory 
to the eye of faith, and there is no other faculty but 
faith by which He can be seen. We have learnt to 
look for the proofs of God's shaping of the history of 

1 Penstcs, ii. 11, 1. 


the world in the continuous discipline in which we 
believe His hand can be traced, and in the pro- 
gressive teaching which we believe reflects His mind, 
rather than in isolated interpositions and special 

It cannot be denied that in former times a dis- 
proportionate value was attached to the arguments 
from miracles and prophecy, and that an undue 
stress was laid upon the least important aspects of 
them. The more astounding to the senses a miracle 
appeared to be, the more convincing an exhibition of 
divine omnipotence was it thought to offer. " The 
particular details, inaccessible by inference from 
general principles or other rational means, seemed 
to apologists of special importance in proving the 
supernatural origin of prophecy. The predictions of 
single incidental circumstances seemed the most 
striking." 1 

But now these arguments are recognised as taking 
a subordinate though real place among the evidences 
of Christianity, and the nature of their evidence has 
been placed in a truer light. Miracles are regarded 
as vehicles rather than as proofs of revelation; as the 
manifestation of a higher law, or the promise of the 
restoration of the true order which has been inter- 
rupted by sin. While circumstantial predictions are 
not to be denied, comparatively little stress is to be 
laid upon them. They cannot always be authenti- 

1 Orelli, Old Testament Prophecy, p. 27 (E.T.). 


cated. For example, the prediction of a Josiah or a 
Cyrus by name centuries before they were born was 
at one time regarded as an irrefragable proof of the 
inspiration of the record. Such predictions would 
no doubt be a very remarkable proof that the 
prophets who delivered them were the agents of 
an omniscient Being, if we could be sure that they 
were really predictions. But the Book of Kings did 
not take its present form till after the reign of 
Josiah, and the name of Josiah may easily have 
been an addition to the original narrative; while 
many arguments combine to prove that the later 
chapters of the Book of Isaiah were not written 
until the lifetime of Cyrus. 

But even when circumstantial predictions can 
be authenticated, they cannot be held to possess 
the importance which was once attached to them. 
Isolated predictions of this kind give little informa- 
tion as to the character and purposes of God. They 
may serve to attract attention and appeal to the 
temper of mind which seeks for a sign, but they will 
not satisfy the more thoughtful student. For him 
the contemplation of the wider characteristics of 
prophecy as a whole will furnish a more solid if less 
startling proof of its divine origin. 

The 'argument from prophecy' must be based 
upon the broadest possible foundation. Appeal must 
be made to the whole of the Old Testament as the 
record of the preparation for Christ's coming. For 


as it has well been said, the Old Testament does not 
merely contain prophecies, but is in itself throughout 
a prophecy. And in dealing with those parts of the 
Old Testament which contain the teaching of the 
prophets, appeal must be made not to the predictive 
elements of prophecy only, but to the work of the 
prophets as a whole. That work must be regarded 
in its entirety as one great factor in God's revelation 
of Himself to Israel, preparing the way for the fuller 
revelation to come, not less than as the fore-announce- 
ment of His purpose to make that revelation, and of 
the mode in which it was to be made. We shall 
claim to find in Christ, not the fulfilment of the 
predictions of the prophets only, but the consumma- 
tion and realisation of the whole of their teaching. 
In the harmony of the two revelations we shall hear 
the voice of God speaking to men, not the voices of 
men striving to express their aspirations after God. 
The prophecies are not human ideals, but divine ideas. 
But the argument is only one among many 
arguments for the truth of Christianity ; and it is 
more properly addressed to believers for the support 
and confirmation of their faith than to unbelievers 
for the removal of their doubts. What has been 
said of miracles is true of prophecy. It "belongs 
properly to the believer and not to the doubter. It 
is a treasure rather than a bulwark. It is in its 
inmost sense instruction, and not evidence." 1 

1 Bishop Westcott, Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles, p. 7. 



Gains from Christian students of the Old Testament, who 

hostile ... . 

criticism. s tart from the premiss that it is the divinely inspired 
record of a divinely ordered preparation for a divinely 
purposed end, and who retain their belief that the 
Holy Ghost "spake by the prophets," need not 
hesitate to acknowledge that they owe a debt to 
hostile criticism. There are three points in particular 
in which they have made a decided advance in recent 
years towards the general adoption of sounder methods 
of interpretation, and the use of safer if less startling 
arguments. They have learnt to study the Old Testa- 
ment critically and historically ; to take account of a 
wider view of prophecy ; to offer a more reasonable 
conception of the fulfilment of prophecy. 

1. Christian students have come to recognise 
that the Old Testament must be studied critically 
and historically. It is their duty to examine, 
frankly and fearlessly, all that can be ascertained 
with regard to the origin and date of the several 
books, the genuineness of the text, the character of 
the record, and all the problems which necessarily 
arise in the examination and interpretation of ancient 
documents. They will not dissect the volume with 
irreverent hands as though anxious to demonstrate 
that it never had or could have a living unity, but 
they will seek to exhibit more fully the nature and 
the correlation of the complex parts which constitute 


the organism in which the life is manifested. It is 
no less their duty to study the Old Testament his- 
torically ; to endeavour to realise the relation of 
each book to the conditions and ideas of the age in 
which it was produced, and to the whole history and 
revelation of which it forms a part. This is especially 
important in the study of the prophets. The Pro- 
phecies of the Old Testament, like the Epistles of 
the New Testament, had what may be called a 
circumstantial origin. Each prophecy, as a rule, 
bears the stamp of its own age ; it is couched in the 
terms of its own particular epoch; it is shaped to 
meet the special needs of those to whom it was first 
addressed ; it bears the impress of the character and 
the training of the individual through whom it was 

For every fiery prophet in old times, 

And all the sacred madness of the bard, 

When God made music thro' them, could but speak 

His music by the framework and the chord. 1 

2. Christian students have learnt to take a larger 
view of the prophet's work. The prophet was not 
merely, I might even say he was not chiefly, a pre- 
dictor. He was not so much a foreteller as a forth- 
teller. Insight not less than foresight was the gift 
of the seer. The precise original meaning of the 
Hebrew word for prophet is much disputed, but 

1 Tennyson, The Holy Grail, p. 85. 


certainly it does not in itself contain the idea of 
prediction. In usage it denotes one who is the 
spokesman or interpreter of God to men, 1 one who 
is the medium through which divine revelations are 
conveyed, rather than one who is endowed with the 
power of foreknowledge, though this may be one of 
his gifts. 

The prophet's work concerned the past, the pre- 
sent, and the future. The prophets were the historians 
of Israel. 2 • They regarded the history of the nation 
from a religious standpoint. They traced the direct 
control of Jehovah over the fortunes of His people, 
in mercy and in judgement. It was their function to 
record and interpret the lessons of the past for the 
warning and encouragement of the present and the 

Their work was concerned with the present. They 
were preachers of righteousness. They summoned 
men to repentance, setting before them the goodness 
and the severity of God. The relation of Jehovah to 
His people, and the consequent duty of Jehovah's 
people to Him, side by side with the duty of man to 
his neighbour, arising out of that mutual relation- 

1 Comp. Exod. vii. 1 : " See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh : 
and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet," with Exod. iv. 16 : 
'•'He shall be thy spokesman unto the people : and it shall come 
to pass, that he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him 
as God." 

2 It will be remembered that the Books of Joshua, Judges, 
Samuel, and Kings are classed in the Jewish Canon as "the 
former prophets." 


ship, were the constant themes of their teaching. It 
was their work to make known the Will of God, 
and to urge men to bring their lives into harmony 
with that Will. They were unceasingly engaged 
in advancing the knowledge of His character and 

Yet none the less were they concerned with the 
future ; and that not merely by way of general 
promises of reward and threatenings of punishment, 
but with the full conviction that they were the 
appointed heralds of the divine purpose for Israel, 
and through Israel for the world. The manifestation 
of salvation in the fullest sense ; the advent of 
Jehovah Himself to be the Redeemer of His people ; 
the establishment of His kingdom upon earth : these 
were the lofty hopes which they were commissioned 
to proclaim. And it was their task not only to 
announce the divine purpose, but to prepare the way 
for its realisation. 

3. Christian students have learnt a truer concep- 
tion of what is meant by the fulfilment of prophecy. 
Prophecy and fulfilment were once supposed to be 
related as the reflection in a mirror to the object 
reflected. The complete course of future events was 
thought to have been mapped out in a way intelligible 
to the prophet and his contemporaries. Prophecy 
was considered as being throughout " inverted 
history." Even Bishop Butler could say that "pro- 
phecy is nothing but the history of events before 


they come to pass." * It was expected that the fulfil- 
ment would correspond exactly to the prediction. 
Many of the objections which have been levelled 
against the Christian view of the relation of the Old 
Testament to the New Testament rest in great 
measure upon the erroneous assumption that this 
mechanical view of prophecy and fulfilment is what 
the defenders of the faith are pledged to maintain. 

But fulfilment is related to prophecy rather as the 
plant with all its beauty of leaf and flower and fruit 
is related to the seed from which it has sprung. The 
connexion can be traced : the microscope can detect 
the parts of the future plant wrapped up in the 
envelope of the seed ; but it could not foretell, apart 
from experience, what the full growth will bring, or 
how the minute and colourless rudiments will de- 
velop into rich variety of form and colour. The 
envelope is necessary to contain and protect the 
germ ; but it is not itself the life -principle of the 
future plant. And so, prophecy contains the germ 
which is to spring up in a new form in the fulfilment ; 
the principle which will in due time receive its 
legitimate development. It is the outline which will 
be filled in and take definite shape. The inner idea, 
and not the form in which that idea is conveyed, is 
the essential part of a prophecy. The form in which 
the idea is embodied is largely human, determined 
by the conditions of the prophet's age and varying 
1 Analogy, Part ii, ch. vii. 


from time to time accordingly. The fulfilment, which 
is the evolution of the essential idea, is greater than 
the prophecy. It drops the envelope which served 
to contain it. It grows up out of it. It unites 
elements which existed separately, the combination 
of which, apart from the fulfilment, could not have 
been foreseen. That it is a true realisation of what 
was fore-designed in the divine purpose, and foretold 
by inspired prophets, will be recognised without 
hesitation by the believer. It will not compel belief, 
any more than any other spiritual truth, but it will 
confirm belief. 


I propose in this Course of Lectures to approach scope and 

])lan of 

the prophecies of the Old Testament from the point "»e«e 

* ■*■ lectures. 

of view of their delivery rather than of their fulfil- 
ment. I propose to limit the inquiry to the teaching 
of those prophets whose writings have come down to 
us. I do not propose to carry it further back into 
the age which preceded the age of written prophecy, 
or to continue it into New Testament times. I pro- 
pose to examine the teaching of each prophet in 
relation to the circumstances and the needs of his 
own time ; to endeavour to estimate the special con- 
tribution made by each to the progress of revela- 
tion and the development of the Messianic hope ; to 
sketch out, so far as it may be possible to do so in a 
short compass, the doctrine of the prophets in its 



historical development as the message of Jehovah to 
Israel in successive periods, and the preparation for 
the fuller revelation of the kingdom of God in Christ. 
The plan will involve some repetition. But it is 
worth while to treat each prophet separately, even at 
the expense of some repetition, if by so doing we may 
realise better the unity in variety which character- 
ises their message. Each prophet has his own marked 
individuality of style, of thought, of teaching; but 
they all combine to promote one common end, the 
furtherance and the establishment of the kingdom 
of God. At the same time it is necessary to beware 
of generalising too rigidly, and " making particular 
prophets the exponents of merely a single concep- 
tion," to the exclusion of " other conceptions, which, 
though less prominent, are present, either expressed 
or suggested. Broad distinctions are rare in the Old 
Testament. The course of revelation is like a river, 
which cannot be cut up into sections." x 

The order It will be convenient at once to take a rapid 

of the r 

prophets. surve y f the chronological order of the canonical 
prophets, distinguishing those whose dates are certain 
from those whose dates rest upon internal evidence, 
and can only be determined with more or less prob- 

1 A. B. Davidson in The Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. vi, p. 163. 


ability. Those of the former class may be arranged 
in three groups. 

1. The prophets of the eighth century, or the 
Assyrian period (B.C. 760-700), in which Assyria first 
began seriously to interfere in the affairs of Palestine, 
and the kingdom of Israel finally succumbed to its 
power. To this period belong Amos (c. 760) and 
Hosea (c 755-740), Isaiah (c. 740-700) and Micah 
(c. 735-725 ?). The two former exercised their 
ministry in Israel, and foretold the downfall of the 
Northern Kingdom ; the two latter prophesied in 
Judah, in the momentous crisis when it seemed that 
it must share a similar fate. 

2. The prophets of the seventh century, or the 
Chaldean period (b.c. 640-570), in which Babylon 
took the place of Nineveh as the mistress of the 
world, and Jerusalem fell before the Chaldean in- 
vader. First in this period comes Nahum (c. 640 ?), 
who raises a triumphant paean over the impending 
fall of Nineveh : next to him Zephaniah (c. 630-622), 
with his message of the day of judgement at hand for 
Jerusalem: and after him Habakkuk (c. 609-607), 
with his bold questionings of the ways of Providence. 
The long ministry of Jeremiah (627-577), to whom 
was assigned the bitter task of delivering an unheeded 
message of admonition, and watching the agony of 
his nation's dissolution, covered the period in which 
the two last-named prophets flourished, and was 
continued for many years subsequently. Contem- 


poraneously with the latter part of it Ezekiel was 
prophesying to the exiles in Babylonia (592-570). 

3. To the period after the Eeturn from Babylon 
belong Haggai (520), Zechariah (520-518), and 
Malachi (c. 435 ?). The two former encouraged the 
fainting spirits of the returned exiles to rebuild the 
Temple ; the latter probably supported the reforms 
of Nehemiah nearly a century later, and closed the 
series of canonical prophets. 

With regard to the dates of these prophets there 
is but little variation of opinion. But where shall we 
place Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah xxiv-xxvii and xl-lxvi, 
Zechariah ix-xiv? Should Obadiah be dated as 
early as the reign of Jehoram (B.C. 848-844); or 
shortly after the Fall of Jerusalem ? Should Joel be 
placed in the early part of the reign of Joash (B.C. 
837-817), or in the period after the Eeturn from 
Babylon ? Not without some hesitation I have come 
to the conclusion that the evidence is in favour of the 
earlier dates, and treated these prophets as belonging 
to the pre-Assyrian period. That the Book of Con- 
solation now attached to the Book of Isaiah (chaps, 
xl-lxvi) was the work not of Isaiah but (in the main 
at least) of a prophet or prophets towards the close 
of the Babylonian Exile seems to me a certain con- 
clusion from internal evidence. The closing chapters 
of the Book of Zechariah present a difficult problem, 
but I am inclined to think that, although not the 
work of Zechariah, but of two other writers, they 


stand in their right position among the post-exilic 
prophets, and in all probability belong to the period 
between Zechariah and Malachi. To the same period 
I am disposed to refer the remarkable prophecy in 
chapters xxiv-xxvii of the Book of Isaiah. 

I have excluded the Book of Jonah and the Book 
of Daniel from consideration. The former is not the 
record of a prophet's teaching but the account of a 
prophet's work. Though it stands among the Twelve 
Minor Prophets it is wholly unlike the remaining 
eleven. It is emphatically, as a Jewish tradition calls 
it, " a book by itself," x and important as are the 
lessons which it conveys, it has no claim to be in- 
cluded in a study of prophetic teaching. The Book 
of Daniel is not reckoned among the prophets in 
the Jewish Canon, and belongs to the study of 
apocalyptic rather than of prophetic literature. 
Some minor fragments embedded in larger books 
have also been passed over. 


In this sketch of the succession of the prophets the The right oj 


right of literary criticism to set aside the tradition of 
the Jewish Church concerning the authorship and 
date of books or portions of books has been assumed. 
A few words must be said in justification of that 

1 Midrash Bemidbar (c. 18), quoted in Ryle, Canon of the Old 
Testament, p. 194. See Wiinsche, Bibliotheca Rabbinica, p. 451 


right. 1 The conclusions of criticism rest upon such 
grounds as those of historical allusions, literary style, 
characteristic doctrines. They are probable, not 
demonstrative, and in different cases reach very 
different degrees of probability. A prejudice is 
sometimes raised against the conclusions of criticism 
by the allegation that it springs ultimately from a 
desire to deny the predictive character of prophecy. 
It is possible that this may have been a motive with 
some of its advocates. But it is not so with others. 
They do not start with any theory of the impossibility 
of prediction. For them — to take a concrete example 
— the question with regard to the last twenty-seven 
chapters of Isaiah is not whether Isaiah could have 
uttered the predictions they contain, but whether the 
historical situation which they presume is that of 
Isaiah's lifetime; whether the style is such that 
these chapters can reasonably be supposed to have 
proceeded from the same pen as the acknowledged 
prophecies of Isaiah; whether the characteristic 
doctrines differ from the doctrines of those pro- 
phecies in a way which can only be accounted 
for by a considerable interval of time, and the 

1 See further my Divine Library of the Old Testament, Lectures 
i and ii. It is perhaps worth while observing that the principle of 
literary criticism is fully admitted by one of my most distinguished 
predecessors in the Warburtonian Lectureship, whose orthodoxy 
has been generally regarded as unimpeachable ; and its application 
to the later chapters of Zechariah is accepted as proving that they 
cannot be ascribed to Zechariah or his age. I refer to Davison, 
On Prophecy, pp. 277, 230 (ed. 1856). 


occurrence in that interval of an unparalleled cata- 

It is sometimes urged that such questions ought 
to be regarded as settled by the authority of the New 
Testament. On this point I may be allowed to refer 
to what I have said elsewhere. 1 I can only repeat 
that it is difficult to see how our Lord and His 
Apostles (with reverence be it said) could have done 
otherwise than accept the current nomenclature of 
the time. The critical questions and the issues 
which they raise were not before them ; and their 
acceptance of what was then universally believed 
cannot legitimately be held to preclude critical 
inquiry, any more than their acceptance of current 
ideas upon physical questions is regarded as a bar to 
scientific research. 


Two questions of no slight interest and importance character 

and ar- 

arise in regard to the contents and arrangement of rangement 

° ° o) the pro- 

the prophetic books. They have an important bear- P heticbook » 
ing upon their interpretation, and a few general 
remarks must be made here, which will receive 
detailed illustration as we proceed. What is the 
character of the records of prophecy which have been 
preserved to us ? and what is the principle upon 
which they have been arranged in the different books? 

1 Divine Library of the Old Testament, pp. 8 ff. 


The answers to these questions will naturally 
vary in different cases. Some prophecies appear to 
have been committed immediately to writing without 
ever having been orally delivered. Other prophecies 
were first orally delivered and then committed to 
writing. Sometimes this was done by the prophet 
himself; sometimes little more than reminiscences 
preserved by the prophet's disciples appear to have 
come down to lis. 

In some cases a prophecy was committed to 
writing immediately after its delivery. In other 
cases a long period of oral teaching preceded the 
committal to writing, and we possess only a con- 
densed report giving the substance of teaching 
spread over months or even years, and fusing together 
discourses delivered upon different occasions. A most 
instructive account of a prophet's method of working 
is preserved in the Book of Jeremiah (ch. xxxvi). He 
prophesied for more than twenty years before he com- 
mitted anything to writing ; and the roll which he 
then dictated to Baruch can obviously have contained 
only a summary of his teaching during that period. 
When he re-wrote it after its destruction by Jehoi- 
akim, he made many additions to it, and this enlarged 
roll forms only the basis of our present book, which 
contains many later prophecies. Upon another 
occasion he received a command to commit a 
prophecy to writing without delay as a witness to 
future ages (xxx. 1 ff.). 


It would vastly simplify the student's task if 
it could be assumed that the prophecies in each 
book were arranged in chronological order. But 
it is certain that this is not always the case. 
While the principle of arrangement is generally in 
the main chronological, this principle is to some extent 
traversed and obscured by arrangement according to 
subject-matter. Prophecies of cognate character in 
style or thought have been grouped together. In 
some instances collections of portions of the prophet's 
works, published by himself or his disciples, preceded 
the complete collection, and to some extent influenced 
its arrangement. Consequently we may have to turn 
to different parts of a book for illustration of the 
prophet's teaching in a particular period, and we 
cannot assume that the book as it stands will present 
his teaching in an orderly progress and development. 

Thus a wide variety of possibilities with regard 
to the character and arrangement of the prophetic 
books must be constantly taken into account. And 
further, as has been already observed, some of the 
prophetic books undoubtedly contain prophecies by 
other prophets than those whose names they bear. 
But that they have been altered and interpolated to 
the extent which is maintained by some modern 
critics is wholly improbable, and the arguments by 
which these critics support their theories are often 
based upon unproved hypotheses, and are of an ex- 
tremely arbitrary and subjective character. 




importance The importance of the study of the prophets, and 

of the pro- 
phets in especially of the prophets of the earliest period. 

relation to r J r r r 

in relation to the questions which are now being 
debated with regard to the origin of the religion of 
Israel, can hardly be exaggerated. In Amos, Hosea, 
and the acknowledged parts of Isaiah, we are dealing 
with documents the age of which is not disputed. 
They occupy a position in the Old Testament analo- 
gous to the position which is occupied in the New 
Testament by the acknowledged Epistles of St. Paul. 
It is maintained by the school of critics which 
regards the religion of Israel as a natural develop- 
ment and not as a divine revelation, that the 
prophets of the eighth century were " the founders 
of ethical Monotheism," in other words that they 
were the first teachers of the moral character and 
requirements of Jehovah. The careful study of 
their writings affords the most convincing refutation 
of this theory. If anything is clear from their 
writings, it is that they do not regard themselves as 
innovators but as reformers. They are striving to 
recall the people to their allegiance to Jehovah, and 
to raise practice to the level of belief. The standard 
and the motive of right conduct is the knowledge of 
God, which the people might have possessed, but 
for their own carelessness and the neglect of their 


teachers. Jehovah's word and His law have been 
declared to them ; but they have despised His word 
and transgressed His law. These prophets are con- 
scious of no discontinuity with the past. Amos 
speaks of the prophets who had preceded him, with- 
out any doubt that he is their legitimate successor. 
" The springs at least of all prophecy can be seen 
in the two prophets of northern Israel [Amos and 
Hosea] ; but the rains which fed those fountains fell 
in the often unrecorded past." 1 The simple fact that 
Amos, who went from Judah to prophesy to Israel, 
and Hosea, who was a born Israelite, are agreed 
in the fundamental principles of their teaching, 
proves that the foundations of the religion of 
Israel were firmly established before the Division 
of the Kingdoms. Nor can there be any doubt 
to what period the prophets referred the origin 
of Israel's religion. It was to the Mosaic age, when 
Jehovah entered into covenant with the nation 
which He brought out of Egypt; though even in 
the patriarchal period He had revealed Himself to 
their ancestors. 

But while on the one hand the earliest prophets 
bear testimony to the antiquity of Jehovah's revela- 
tion of Himself to Israel, on the other hand they 
cannot be held to afford proof of the existence of the 
Pentateuch in its present form. They do not appeal 
to a written law as the recognised standard of 

1 A. B. Davidson, The Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. vi, p. 163. 


conduct. 1 The ' law ' or ' instruction ' of Jehovah of 
which they speak is the equivalent of His ' word ' 
(Isa. i. 10 ; ii. 3 ; v. 24). It is oral and not written. 
It deals with morality, not with ceremonial. No 
doubt a sacrificial system was in full operation. 
The prophets repeatedly condemn the popular idea 
that Jehovah could be propitiated by sacrifice with- 
out regard to the moral condition of the worshipper. 
Festivals such as the new moon and Sabbath were 
observed. There are allusions to the celebration of 
the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. A body 
of priests existed whose duty it was not merely to 
maintain the established ritual of sacrifice, but to 
instruct the people in their religious duties. Not a 
few parallels to the language of Deuteronomy and 
even of the priestly legislation may be collected. 
But the whole drift of the teaching of the earlier 
prophets indicates that the law, both moral and 
ceremonial, was still in process of growth, and 
though portions of both the legal and the historical 
elements of the Hexateuch probably already existed 
in writing, other portions were still preserved by 
oral tradition. In fact we must think of ' the Law ' 
and ' the Prophets ' as concomitant rather than suc- 
cessive disciplines. Prophecy reached back to the 
foundation of the law ; and the law went on growing 

1 No such phrase as "the book of the law" occurs in them. 
Hos. viii. 12 may imply the existeuce of written laws, but its 
meaning is uncertain. 


side by side with prophecy. " It cannot be doubted 
that Moses was the ultimate founder of both the 
national and the religious life of Israel ; and that 
he provided his people not only with at least the 
nucleus of a system of civil ordinances (such as 
would, in fact, arise directly out of his judicial 
functions, as described in Exod. xviii), but also (as 
the necessary correlative of the primary truth that 
Jehovah was the God of Israel) with some system of 
ceremonial observances, designed as the expression 
and concomitant of the religious and ethical duties 
involved in the people's relation to its national God." 
But "in process of time, as national life grew more 
complex, and fresh cases requiring to be dealt with 
arose," the original principles "would be found no 
longer to suffice, and their extension would become 
a necessity." * To the end, however, the law built 
up upon the Mosaic foundation remained the Mosaic 
law, and was revered as possessing the sanction of 
its founder's authority. 


The historical study of the prophets in relation to vaiueoftkt 


their own age may seem to some readers to be less method of 

° J studying the 

fruitful and less necessary than the study of them in P r °P hets - 
the light of their fulfilment. But I am confident 

1 Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 
6th ed., p. 152 f. 

30 METHOD OF STUDY lect. i 

that there is no other method by which so firm a 
conviction can be gained that they were in very 
truth what they claimed to be, the inspired mes- 
sengers of God; no better means by which an insight 
may be obtained into the variety and vitality of their 
message; no more certain way of attaining to an 
assurance that by their agency God was training His 
people for that greater revelation which was to be at 
once the consummation of the past and the starting- 
point of the future. 

It has been well said that " at the present 
stage in the progress of religious thought we 
seem to need above all things to enter with a 
living sympathy into the whole teaching of the 
Bible, in its many parts and many forms ; to realise 
with a historical, no less than with a spiritual 
insight, what lessons it conveys and in what shape ; 
in order that so we may be trained to recognise 
and to interpret the fresh lessons which the One 
Spirit is offering to us in other ways." x Towards 
such a study of an important part of Holy Scripture 
it is the aim of these Lectures to offer some con- 
tribution however small. 

1 Bishop Westcott, The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p. xv. 



dAAtt Kal at irpo(f>r)Teiai rots firj irapepyios tvTvy\avovcri 
rrj ev aureus ir poyvoxrei [naval fioi aval 8okov<ti 7r/aos to 
TrelcraL tov cruverais a/ia Kal evy vw/xovws avay Lyvuxr Kovra on 
Oeov Trvtvfia rjv ev reus dvSpaacv €Keivcus. 

Moreover, if men study carefully the foreknowledge which 
they display, the prophecies seem to me sufficient to persuade 
him who reads them with intelligence and judgement that 
the Spirit of God was in those men. 




The kingdom shall be Jehovah's. — Obadiah 21. 

The brief prophecy which bears the name of Obadiah contents of 
is directed against Edom. The nations are summoned 
by Jehovah's messengers to make war upon Edom. 
He has determined to humble Edom's pride; Edom's 
arrogant confidence in the impregnability of his rock- 
fortress will be undeceived. Edom will be plundered 
by enemies and deserted by allies. His wise coun- 
sellors will become fools, his heroes cowards ; he is 
doomed to utter destruction (1-9). 

It is for his inhuman behaviour towards his 
brother Jacob that this sentence is pronounced. For 
in the day of Judah's humiliation and calamity, 
when Jerusalem was taken and sacked by foreign 
enemies, Edom was as one of them, rejoicing mali- 
ciously at Judah's disaster, sharing the plunder, 
cutting off the fugitives from escape (10-14). 


But Jehovah's day of judgement for all the nations 
is at hand, and Edom will not escape a just retri- 
bution. A remnant will remain in Jerusalem, and 
Jerusalem will no more be desecrated by invaders : 
but Edom will be utterly destroyed by the reunited 
forces of Judah and Israel, who will take possession 
not only of their own land, but of Edom on the east, 
and Philistia on the west ; and Jehovah's kingdom 
will be established securely (15-21). 


Of the prophet himself nothing is known. All 
that can be inferred from his prophecy is that he 
was a native of Judah. Widely different opinions 
are held as to the date at which he prophesied, some 
placing him in the ninth century, others at the time 
of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, 
others much later still. But the choice really lies 
between the two first-named dates, the relative 
claims of which we will proceed to consider. 
Occasion The occasion of the prophecy is obvious. It was 
some recent capture of Jerusalem, in which the Edom- 
ites had been guilty of the grossest insult and injury 
to Judah. They were not themselves the principal 
assailants ; indeed it is not clear that they took part 
in the attack ; but they had displayed an un- 
brotherly spirit by their malignant delight at 
Judah's calamity, by sharing in the plunder of the 


city, by intercepting the fugitives, and butchering 

them or surrendering them to be sold as slaves. 

It is generally assumed that this sack of Jerusalem is u the de- 
struction of 

can be no other than the capture and destruction of Jerusalem 

r in B.C. 586 f 

the city by Nebuchadnezzar in B.C. 586. In support 
of this view it is argued that the terms in which 
the catastrophe which has befallen Jehovah's people 
is described can refer to no less disastrous event. 
It is spoken of as the day of distress, the day of their 
calamity, the day of their destruction. Moreover the 
spirit of bitter hostility to Edom which the prophecy 
breathes is said to date from this time. It is 
in the prophets of the exilic and the post -exilic 
periods that we must look for the closest parallels 
to Obadiah. 1 

But this view is traversed by a serious difficulty. Relation to 
Jeremiah's prophecy against Edom (xlix. 7-22) con- 
tains much that is found in Obadiah. It is impossible 
to regard Jeremiah as the original which Obadiah has 
copied. Jeremiah's frequent practice of borrowing 
from earlier prophets 2 makes it a priori probable 
that he is borrowing here : the passages common to 
both prophets do not contain expressions which are 
characteristic of Jeremiah, whereas the other parts 
of the prophecy against Edom in Jer. xlix do con- 
tain such expressions : the prophecy in Obadiah is a 

1 See Lam. iv. 21 f. ; Ezek. xxv. 12 ff. ; xxxv. 5 ff. ; Isa. xxxiv. 
5 ff. ; lxiii. 1 ; Ps. cxxxvii. 7 ; 1 Esdras iv. 45, 50. 

2 E.g. the prophecy against Moab in Jer. xlviii is largely de- 
pendent on Isa. xv, xvi. 



.nged whole, whereas in Jeremiah the same 

,c is broken up and given in u far less forcible 

J obvious order. 

Diu Now Jeremiah's prophecy against Edom appears 

an vhic, ' to have been delivered in the fourth year of Jehoiakim 

prophet ? 

(xlvi. 1 f.) ; at any rate before the destruction of 
Jerusalem, for the judgement upon Judah is still 
future (xlix. 12, B.V.). Either then Jeremiah is 
not borrowing from the Book of Obadiah in its 
present form, or Obadiah does not refer to the 
capture of Jerusalem in B.C. 586. If the view is 
maintained that Obadiah refers to that capture of 
Jerusalem, the relation between his prophecy and 
that of Jeremiah can only be explained by the 
hypothesis that they are both borrowing from some 
older prophecy against Edom. Jeremiah has treated 
it freely and broken it up, while Obadiah has taken 
it as a whole, and supplemented it by the addition 
of the promise of Judah's restoration. In support of 
this view it is urged that as the common matter 
extends to the first nine verses of Obadiah only, it is 
clear that this was all that Jeremiah had before 
him; and that the inconsistencies, want of con- 
nexion, and difference of style, between these verses 
and the later verses, point to a difference of author- 

But it is by no means certain that Jeremiah had 
only w. 1-9 before him. The resemblance between 
Jer. xlix. 12 and Obadiah 16 can hardly be accidental, 


and suggests the probability that Jeremiah had the 
conclusion of the prophecy before him, though, he 
made little use of it. It would be quite natural for 
him to adopt the verses which describe the doom of 
Edom, and to neglect those which describe Edom's 
offence, if that offence lay in the remote past; while 
the latter part of the prophecy, which predicts the 
restoration of Judah, lay entirely outside of his plan. 
In view of the variety of representation which meets 
us in almost every prophet it can hardly be seriously 
argued that because the nations are summoned to 
muster against Edom in v. 1, while in v. 18 the final 
destruction of Edom is spoken of as the work of 
reunited Israel, therefore these later verses cannot 
be by the same author as the earlier ones. The 
want of connexion and the difference of style 
between the earlier and later verses are not so 
pronounced that any stress can be laid upon 

The hypothesis of a common original is no doubt 
possible ; but it is only a hypothesis, and there is 
much to be said in favour of the unity of the Book 
of Obadiah. It forms a symmetrical whole. The 
doom of Edom is naturally followed by the reason 
for that doom, while the promise of the restoration 
of Judah forms the natural counterfoil to the fate of 
Edom, and an appropriate conclusion to the pro- 

There are links of connexion between the parts. 



In both Edom is spoken of as Esau ; 1 in both Esau's 
pride is condemned (vv. 3, 12); and the retribution 
(v. 6) gains point when it is seen that it is like 
for like (vv. 11, 13, 15). No doubt such links of 
connexion might be due to a continuator, but they 
are certainly in favour of the unity of the prophecy. 
or is an When once however the assumption, that the 

earlier sack •-, •, iii • p t 

o/Jerusa- calamity described must be the destruction of Jeru- 

lem referred 

t0? salem in B.C. 586, is abandoned, it becomes unnecessary 

to maintain the theory of composite authorship. And 
a careful examination of the prophecy favours the 
view that it is not the final destruction of Jerusalem 
which is here referred to. 

There is not the slightest hint that the Temple 
and the city have been destroyed ; there is no 
allusion, such as we find iu Ezekiel (xxxv. 10 ff.), to 
the Edomites taking possession of the south country ; 
there is no explicit reference to the Chaldeans, or to 
Nebuchadnezzar, 2 or to the wholesale deportation of 
the nation to Babylon. 3 The attempt to account for 

1 Esau, v. 6 ; the mount of Esau, vv. 8, 9, 19, 21 ; the house of 
Esau, v. 18. Edom only occurs in the title, and in v. 8, where the 
parallelism requires an alternative name. But Esau = Edom is 
rare. The language of Jer. xlix, 8, 10 is influenced by Obadiah. 
In Mai. i. 2, 3 Esau and Jacob are the ancestors of the nations 
Children of Esau occurs in Deut. ii. 4, 8, 12, 22, 29. 

2 Contrast Jer. xlix. 19, 22. 

3 Obad. 20 is very obscure ; but, by the help of a slight emenda- 
tion, we may perhaps adopt the rendering of R. V. : The captivity 
of this host of the children of Israel, which are among the Canaanites, 
shall possess even unto Zarephath ; and the captivity of Jerusalem 
which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the South. The 


this silence by assigning the prophecy in its com- 
pleted form to a date long after the destruction of the 
city is extremely unsatisfactory. The calamity, what- 
ever it was, was certainly recent ; and the language 
of v. 12 perhaps implies that a repetition of Edom's 
offence was possible, which would not have been the 
case after the final destruction of the city. 1 

But if the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Chaldeans was not the occasion of the prophecy, 
what calamity was it that is referred to ? Certainly 
not the sack of Jerusalem by Shishak (1 Kings xiv. 
25, 26), for Edom was then subject to Judah ; nor 
the capture of the city by Joash in the reign of 
Amaziah (2 Kings xiv. 13, 14), for the Israelites 
could not be described as strangers and foreigners 
{v. 11). There remains the capture and plundering 
of the city by the Philistines and Arabians in the 
reign of Jehoram, B.C. 848-844. To this it seems 
most probable that Obadiah refers. It is true that 
the brief account in 2 Chron. xxi. 16, 17 does not 
mention the Edomites ; but the historical books are 

first-mentioned captives will be those among the Phoenicians, who 
trafficked in Israelite slaves (cp. Amos i. 9) : the second possibly 
those to whom Joel refers as having been sold away to Ionia. See 
p. 70. 

1 The literal rendering of vv. 12 ff. is that of the R. V., Look not 
thou, etc. Either the prophet throws himself back to the time of 
the offence, and reproves the Edomites as if they were actually com- 
mitting it ; in which case the rendering of the R. V. (thou shouldest 
not have looked, etc.) will be virtually, though not grammatically, 
correct ; or he throws his reproof into the form of an admonition 
because a repetition of the offence is still possible. 

Joel and 


equally silent about the part which the Edomites 
played at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchad- 
nezzar. Evidently they were not the chief actors ; 
but it was natural that just at this time they should 
have joined in the raid with a view to plunder, for 
they had recently revolted from Judah (2 Kings viii. 
20 ff.). The condemnation of Edom's pride (vv. 3 ff.) 
is specially appropriate, if they had but lately asserted 
their independence. 

obadtZfo This ear]y date for ° Dadiah fa] ls in with the 
allusions to his prophecy in Joel, and with the 
references to Edom in Amos. Joel, as I hope to shew 
presently, prophesied during the early part of the 
reign of Joash (b.c. 837-817?). He was familiar 
with the words, or the writings, of Obadiah. In 
Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that 
escape, as Jehovah hath said (Joel ii. 32), appears to 
be a distinct reference to Obad. 17; and the last 
chapter of Joel contains several allusions to 
Obadiah. 1 

Amos condemns Edom for unbrotherly conduct 
towards Israel (i. 11), singling out precisely the 
same point in Edom's guilt as Obadiah (vv. 10, 12), 
and for trafficking in Israelite slaves, an offence 
closely akin to the behaviour condemned by Obadiah 
(v. 14). Many years had then elapsed since the events 

1 Comp. Joel iii. 3 with Obad. 11 ; iii. 7, 8 with Obad. 15 ; iii. 17 
with Obad. 11, 17 ; iii. 19 with Obad. 10, observing that both 
passages refer to Edom. Of course this argument falls through, if 
Joel is to be placed after the exile. 


to which Obadiah refers, and the bitterness of feeling 
which was natural while the memory of Edom's 
revolt and insolence was still fresh, had been some- 
what softened. The brevity of the oracle of Amos 
against Edom does not admit of detail, but the 
relation of the two peoples is essentially the same, 
and the words of Amos are best explained if Obadiah's 
prophecy had preceded. But once more ; Amos looks 
forward to the restoration of a united Israel under 
the house of David, which will possess the remnant of 
Edom, (ix. 11, 12), and herein be repeats the prophecy 
of Obadiah, who foretells that the house of Jacob and 
the house of Joseph will consume the house of Esau, 
and the dwellers in the south of Judah will spread 
over the mount of Esau. 1 


The teaching of the Book of Obadiah is extremely Teaciwg j 


simple. Edom's pride is to be humbled; Edom is 
to be judged for his brutal conduct toward the people 
of Jehovah, which is the more heinous because of the 
relationship between them. 

1 The meaning of Sepharad in Obad. 20 is much too uncertain 
to be made the basis of an argument. But the Persian inscriptions 
of Darius repeatedly name Qparda in close connexion with Jaund 
or the Ionians (Schrader, Cuneif. Inscr. p. 446). It has been sug- 
gested that Qparda is probably Sardis ; and if Sepharad = S&rdis, 
the passage may refer to the sale of Israelite slaves to the Ionian 
Greeks of which Joel speaks (iii. 6). Sayce (Rec. of the Past, ser. 
2, vol. vi, p. viii) identifies it with Bitbynia and Galatia. 


But the judgement of Edom is only one item in a 
larger judgement ; for the day of Jehovah is near 
upon all the nations. That day will be a day 
of reckoning and retribution. In the great conflict 
between good and evil, represented by Jehovah's 
people on the one side, and the nations which con- 
spire to destroy them on the other, the cause of 
Jehovah's people must prevail. The enemies of 
Jehovah's kingdom must be defeated. While the 
mount of Esau lies desolate, the mount of Zion will 
no more be profaned by the foot of the invading 
stranger. The captive exiles will be restored to 
their home ; Judah and Israel will be reunited ; and 
the final result reached in the closing words of the 
prophecy is that to which all Israel's history pointed, 
the kingdom shall he Jehovah's. 

But we are still within the narrow limits of 
Palestine. No larger hope is expressed of the in- 
clusion of the nations in that kingdom. This agrees 
with the early date of the prophecy. The nations, 
as in Joel, are the objects of judgement, not of 
grace. Not until Israel comes into actual contact 
with Assyria and Egypt in the days of Isaiah 
and Micah, does the truth emerge that Israel's 
mission is to achieve a spiritual conquest of all 
the nations. 

As in Amos, the picture of the future is a picture 
of temporal prosperity. Israel will possess its own 
land in undisturbed security, and Jehovah will reign 


over them there ; but the moral renewal of the people 
under His rule is not mentioned either as a necessity 
or as a hope. As in Amos, there is no reference to 
one special deliverer, the Messianic King. Deliverers 
are spoken of, who will come up on mount Zion to 
judge the mount of Esau; and the term recalls the 
days of the Judges who were raised up from time 
to time to fulfil a special work (Jud. iii. 9, 15 ; 
Neh. ix. 27). 


If Obadiah prophesied in the reign of Jehoram, no Fulfilment 
long interval elapsed before Edom was chastised and 
Obadiah's prophecy was in part fulfilled. Amaziah 
captured Sela, the rock-fortress which the Edomites 
boasted was impregnable (Obad. 3), and inflicted a 
terrible vengeance upon them (2 Kings xiv. 7 ; 
2 Chron. xxv. 11, 12). But they were not completely 
crushed. They were again making raids upon Judah 
in the reign of Ahaz (2 Chron. xxviii. 17), and at the 
destruction of Jerusalem they filled up the measure 
of their iniquity by conduct which aroused feelings 
of the most bitter indignation. They spread over 
the south country as far as Hebron (Ezek. xxxv. 
10 ; 1 Mace. v. 65). Whether along with the neigh- 
bouring nations they were conquered by Nebuchad- 
nezzar is uncertain. But Malachi (i. 3) presupposes 
that Edom had suffered heavily from invasion ; and 
before the end of the fourth century B.C. their old 


capital Petra had passed into the hands of the Nabath- 
eans, who founded the kingdom of Arabia Petraea. 
The Maccabees waged successful wars against them. 
Judas Maccabaeus defeated them at Arabattine 
(1 Mace. v. 3), recovered the south country, and 
recaptured Hebron. John Hyrcanus compelled the 
Edomites who were settled there to accept circum- 
cision and to conform to the law. The Edomites 
appear for the last time during the great struggle 
of the Jews with Pome. After the destruction 
of Jerusalem by Titus their name disappears from 

Edom perished but Israel survived. The succes- 
sive crises of its history were successive steps towards 
the establishment of that kingdom which is the final 
goal to which Obadiah's prophecy looks forward. 
But the idea which he expressed under limitations 
of time and space and the conceptions of his own 
age has been expanded and spiritualised. The closing 
words of his prophecy are still the end upon which 
the eye of hope is fixed. But the kingdom for which 
we look and pray is not limited, material, temporal, 
but universal, spiritual, eternal. 

Thus when we claim fulfilment for the prophecies 
of Obadiah, we do not mean that the course of history, 
either for Edom or for Israel, corresponded step by 
step with his anticipations. He combines into one 
picture a process which was to be the work of ages. 
But we do claim that the principles which find 


expression in his prophecy iu a limited and relative 
form have been verified by the course of history, and 
we await with confidence that complete fulfilment of 
them to which the New Testament still points us 


1 will pour out My spirit upon all flesh. — Johl ii. 28. 

The prophet Of Joel the son of Pethuel nothing is known but the 

Joel ° 

meagre hints which may be gathered from his pro- 
phecy. The name was not an uncommon one. It 
appears as early as the time of Samuel (1 Sam. 
viii. 2), and survives as late as the time of Nehemiah 
(Neh. xi. 9), but there is no ground whatever for 
identifying the prophet with any one of the name 
mentioned elsewhere. The name is significant. It 
means Jehovah is God. Like the name Micah, it 
contains a brief confession of faith. 
a native of Joel was a native of Judah. His home was in 


Jerusalem or its immediate neighbourhood. He 
speaks repeatedly of Zion (ii. 1, 15, 32 ; iii. 16, 
17, 21), and the children of Zion (ii. 23) ; of Judah 
and Jerusalem (ii. 32; iii. 1, 16, 17, 18, 20); 
and the children of Judah and Jerusalem, (iii. 6, 8. 
19), in a way which leaves no doubt upon this point. 

lect. in PROBLEMS OF JOEL 47 

He was familiar with the Temple and its services, 
with the priests and their ministrations (i. 9, 13, 14, 
16 ; ii. 14, 17 ; iii. 18). When he uses the name 
Israel (ii. 27 ; iii. 2, 16) it is as the covenant name 
of God's chosen people, not as the distinctive name 
of the Northern Kingdom, to which he makes no 
allusion whatsoever. 

The frequent references to the Temple and its was he a 
worship, and the importance attached to the inter- 
cessory functions of the priests, have been supposed 
to indicate that, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he was 
himself priest as well as prophet. But this is at 
least doubtful. In more than one passage he seems 
to summon the priests to their duties as though he 
were not himself one of them (i. 13, 14 ; ii. 17). 

Not only however is the personality of the Problems of 

• • r\ • ■ t nr date and in- 

prophet shrouded in obscurity. Opinions differ terpretation 
most widely as to the time at which he flourished, 
and the character of the book which bears his name. 
Was he among the earliest of the prophets, in the 
period before Assyria had even begun to loom like 
a threatening storm-cloud on the horizon ? or is he 
to be placed among the very latest of the prophets, 
at a time when even the memory of Babylon's cruel 
tyranny had been blunted into vague generalities ? 
Did he first originate, or at least first commit to 
writing, thoughts and ideas which were to be taken 
up and expanded by his successors ? or did he merely 
resume and summarise the writings of his long-past 


predecessors, with which he was acquainted from 
diligent literary study ? Is the description of the 
locust plague narrative or prediction ? Is it to be 
understood literally or allegorically ? or may not the 
whole book be rather apocalyptic in its character, 
not resting upon a foundation of present facts, or 
addressed to any particular audience, but idealising 
natural phenomena with a view to delineate for its 
readers the terrors and the glories of the age to 
come ? 


contents of All fruitful discussion of these problems must, it 

the book. ... „ „ .... 

is obvious, start from a careiul examination of the 
book itself. It consists of two parts. In the first 
part (i. 2— ii. 17) the prophet speaks. According to 
the view which will be adopted here, he is describing 
an actual calamity which has befallen the people, 
and exhorting them to penitence and prayer. In 
the second part (ii. 18— iii. 21) Jehovah speaks, 
promising the removal of the calamity in the im- 
mediate future, and foretelling the issues of judgement 
and blessing which are in store for the remoter 
future. It is important to remember that although 
these two parts of the book are now combined in 
close juxtaposition without any marked break, they 
did not necessarily form one continuous discourse. 
In reducing his book to writing Joel has probably 
combined addresses delivered on various occasions, 


and possibly supplemented them by additional pro- 
phecies not orally delivered. 

The general theme of the first division of the (A) ch. i. a- 
. .,. a. 17. 

book is a call to national humiliation and repent- 
ance in view of the visitation of locusts and drought 
by which the land has been devastated. In his first 
discourse (ch. i) the prophet describes this calamity, <;> cvi. i. 
unparalleled in past times, and destined to be long 
memorable in the future. Successive swarms of 
locusts have stripped the land and left it bare (i. 2-4). 
The careless drunkards must rouse themselves from 
their debauch, for they can no longer drug them- 
selves into insensibility to the sufferings of the land 
(5-7). Zion must mourn, for so terrible is the 
scarcity that meal and wine can no longer be provided 
for the accustomed offerings in the Temple (8-10). 
The tillers of the soil must mourn for the loss of 
their labours (11, 12). The priests are bidden to 
humble themselves in penitence for the intermission 
of their due ministrations, and, proclaiming a fast, to 
gather the people for solemn humiliation and prayer 
(13, 14) ; and the prophet puts into their mouth? a 
supplication which pathetically describes the suffer- 
ings of animals as well as men in the drought which 
has burnt up and desolated the whole country 

In ch. ii a fresh address commences. The (?) Ch. a. 
thought already suggested (i. 15) that the present 
visitation is the harbinger of the day of Jehovah is 


' < 


taken up and pressed home. The locust plague is 

described as the army of Jehovah, innumerable and 

irresistible, at the head of which He is Himself 

advancing to judgement (ii. 1-11). Yet even now, 

heartfelt repentance may avail to avert the judgement, 

and restore the people to His favour (12-14). 

(s) ch. a. Then, in a brief exhortation, the prophet once more 

bids proclaim the fast, prescribes the manner of it, and 

dictates to the priests the solemn litany of intercession 

which they are to offer in the Temple court (15-17). 

(B) ch. a. The second part of the book contains Jehovah's 

18-iii. si. r 

answer to His people's prayer. 1 An interval must be 
assumed, in which the prophet's call to repentance 
was obeyed. Then the prophet, speaking directly in 
Jehovah's name and as His mouthpiece, conveys the 
double promise of the removal of the temporal judge- 
ment in the immediate future, and of the bestowal of 
spiritual blessing in the remoter future ; and expands 
the thought of the da} of Jehovah in its twofold 
aspect of judgement and salvation. 

(/) ch. a. The locust army will be banished and destroyed ; 

land, cattle, and people will again rejoice in abundant 
rain and the restored fertility of the soil ; and in 
their deliverance they will recognise a fresh proof 
that Jehovah is their God (18-27). 

(«) en. U. But these temporal judgements and temporal 

1 It must be noticed that vv. 18, 19 are certainly to be rendered 
in the past tense : And Jehovah was jealous for His land, and had 
pity on His people, and Jehovah answered and said unto His people, 
Behold, I v:ill send you corn, etc. 


blessings are the types of spiritual blessings and 

greater judgements in the future. Hereafter Jehovah 

will pour out His spirit upon all flesh ; awful signs 

will precede the great and terrible day of Jehovah ; 

but in the midst of them all will be deliverance in 

Jerusalem for those who call upon the name of 

Jehovah (28-32). 

In that distant future the nations will be sum- (s> ch. m 

moned to Jehovah's tribunal to answer for the wrongs 

they have done to His people (iii. 1-8). They are 

challenged to muster their forces and do their worst. 

It is in vain. They do but gather themselves to meet w ch. m. 


their doom (9-15). But in that day of terror Jehovah 
will be His people's refuge. Foreigners will no more 
overrun the holy land. Judah will be blessed with 
a marvellous fertility, while Egypt and Edom lie 
desolate for the punishment of their sins. Jehovah's 
presence will be manifested in the midst of a pardoned 
people (16-21). 


Such is a brief outline of the Book of Joel, if we connexion 
adopt the literal interpretation, which is, I believe, at pf>ec y with 

the circum 

once the most natural and the most satisfactory. The stances of 

J the time. 

prophet's teaching springs throughout from the needs 
and the circumstances of his own time. The drought 
and the locusts were an actual, present visitation. So 
terrible was it, that the great day of Jehovah, the final 
day of judgement, seemed to be close at hand. But the 


The locust 
plague de- 
scribed not 

prophet's message for his countrymen is that repent- 
ance may avert that judgement. They repent, and he 
is commissioned to announce the removal of the 
plague. But they must not fancy that because it is 
postponed, the day of Jehovah will never come. It 
will come, in blessing and in judgement. The locust 
army which has invaded Judah is but a type of the 
army of the nations which will muster to battle 
against Jehovah and His people. The destruction of 
the locusts is the type of the destruction of the 
nations. The outpouring of abundant rain upon the 
parched land is the type of the outpouring of the spirit 
of God in the latter days. The deliverance of those 
who call upon Jehovah in their present distress 
(i. 19) is the pledge of the deliverance of those who 
call upon His name in the great day of judgement 
(ii. 32). The restored fertility of the land is an 
anticipation of the marvellous fertility of the future. 
The present deliverance is a proof of the Presence of 
Jehovah among His people (ii. 27) ; that Presence 
is the supreme blessing of the redeemed nation when 
the final judgement is past (iii. 21). 

The literal interpretation of the first part of the 
book as the description of an actual calamity has, 
however, been warmly disputed. 

Two questions have been raised — (1) whether this 
part of the book is descriptive or predictive; (2) 
whether it is literal or allegorical. To the first 
question I believe a decisive answer may con- 


fidently be given, that the prophet describes a 
calamity from which the land was actually suffering. 
This is clear, whether the locusts are regarded as 
literal and actual locusts, or interpreted allegorically 
of an invading army. The appeal to the experience 
of the old men and their fathers (i. 2) ; the charge 
to hand on the memory of the visitation to future 
generations (i. 3) ; the detailed and graphic picture 
of the calamity in all its consequences ; in fact, almost 
every feature and every verse of the passage, condemn 
the theory that the prophet is predicting the future 
while he seems to describe the present. 

To the second question I believe that an equally literal not 


decisive answer may be given. It is argued that the 
description of the locust plague far exceeds the 
bounds of possible reality, and in several of its 
features is applicable only to an invading army of 
human beings, and not to irrational insects ; that 
" the northern army," literally the northerner (ii. 20), 
must refer not to locusts, which never come from 
the north, but to some enemy advancing from that 
quarter (cp. Jer. i. 13 ff.) ; that the prayer, " Give 
not Thine heritage to reproach, that the nations 
should rule over them" (ii. 17), clearly points to the 
fear of subjugation by a foreign invader. It has even 
been supposed that the four kinds of locusts (i.4; ii. 25) 
represent the four great powers from which Israel 
successively suffered — the Assyrio- Babylonian, the 
Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Eoman empires ; 


or four successive invading armies at some period of 
its history. 

To these arguments it may be answered that Joel's 
language is not to be regarded as plain bare prose, 
though in fact the devastation wrought by locusts 
can scarcely be exaggerated. It has in it a touch of 
poetical imagination and Oriental hyperbole. His 
description of the locusts is perhaps coloured by the 
thought constantly present to his mind that they 
were a Divine visitation, the prototype and the har- 
binger of the great day of Jehovah, with its attendant 
terrors. " The northerner " is a term of too uncertain 
meaning to count for much. While locusts un- 
doubtedly for the most part enter Palestine from the 
south or south-east, it does not seem certain that they 
never came from the north. Possibly the word may 
have denoted what is destructive, ill-omened, and 
calamitous. In ch. ii. 17 the right rendering un- 
questionably is, " Give not Thine heritage to reproach, 
that the nations should use a hyword against them." 
The calamity which had befallen Israel would seem 
to be due to the unwillingness or inability of Jehovah 
to protect them, so that the heathen would mockingly 
ask, Wliere is their God ? 

But the final and conclusive argument against the 
allegorical interpretation is that the locust plague is 
itself compared to an army (ii. 2 ff.). It would be 
strange indeed to compare a symbol with the reality 
of which it is intended to be a symbol. And when 


Jehovah promises to restore the damage which has 

been wrought, it is exclusively of the produce of the 

earth that He speaks (ii. 21 ff.). Here, at any rate, 

if the language had been allegorical, it would have 

been natural to look for some hint of the actual 

disasters to which it was intended to refer, for some 

allusion to the restoration of plunder carried off and 

captives torn from their homes. But there is none ; 

and we are driven back upon the simple and natural 

explanation that Joel is describing the disaster which 

had actually befallen the land at the time when he 

spoke or wrote, from an unprecedentedly terrible 

plague of locusts, combined with a severe drought. 

There is, however, a modification of the allegorical The apoca- 
lyptic theory 
theory which has found considerable favour in recent untenable. 

times. According to this view, the book is an escha- 
tological or apocalyptic work, describing the terrors 
of the last days, which will precede the final day of 
judgement. It was never orally delivered to an 
audience, but composed for study. It is addressed 
not to the prophet's contemporaries, but to those 
upon whom that awful day will dawn. The locusts 
of ch. i are not common locusts, but weird super- 
natural creatures. The army described in ch. ii 
under the figure of locusts is no ordinary army, but 
a mysterious host of unearthly warriors. These 
strange terrors and supernatural portents precede 
and usher in the day of Jehovah, which is then 
described in its double aspect of judgement and 

56 DATE OF JOEL lect. 

blessing. "The northerner" is a term borrowed 
from Ezek. xxxviii. 6, 15 to designate the army 
of Gog, issuing from the remote recesses of the 
north for a final conflict against the people of 

This view is open to the objections already urged 
against the older form of the allegorical theory. And 
further, there is no hint that Joel's words are 
addressed, not to his immediate contemporaries, but 
to some imaginary readers in a distant future. He 
includes himself along with his audience as a spec- 
tator of the sufferings of the land (i. 16). Moreover, 
there is no ground for distinguishing the locusts of 
ch. i from the locust army of ch. ii. In the first 
discourse the devastation which they have wrought, 
in the second the irresistibleness of their advance, is 
in the foreground ; but in both discourses they are 
connected with the day of Jehovah (i. 15 ; ii. 1, 11), 
and throughout the damage wrought is simply that 
of the locust plague, which is designated alike in the 
description of its march (ii. 11) and in the promise 
of restoration (ii. 25) as Jehovah's army. This apoca- 
lyptic theory, moreover, is closely bound up with a 
view of the date of the book which we shall find good 
grounds for rejecting. 

We conclude, then, that Joel describes an actual 
plague of locusts, accompanied by a severe drought. 
This visitation formed the occasion of his prophecy, 
and gave shape to his predictions for the future. 


But it may freely be admitted that his picture of 
the present calamity is drawn with bolder lines and 
stronger colouring in view of the more awful realities 
in the distant future which it prefigured. The de- 
scription of natural phenomena must always be 
largely influenced by the ideas which they represent 
to the beholder. 


The date of Joel's prophecy is one of the most Dateo/Joei 
keenly debated problems of Biblical criticism. It is 
generally acknowledged that he must either have been 
one of the very earliest of the prophets, or have lived 
after the Eeturn from the Captivity, and have been, 
in all probability, one of the very latest of them. The 
absence of any mention of Syria, Assyria, and Babylon 
among the enemies of Judah points to a time when 
these nations had not yet come into conflict with 
Judah, or else had disappeared from the stage of 
history. For the earlier date we must go back beyond 
the time of Amos, who threatens the Syrians with 
punishment, and already foresees that Israel will fall 
a prey to Assyria, to the earlier part of the reign of 
Joash, before Hazael invaded Judah, and only retired 
from Jerusalem on the payment of a heavy indemnity 
(2 Kings xii. 18 ff.). Most of the critics who adopt 
the earlier date agree in placing Joel in this period, 
i.e. according to the revised chronology, between about 

68 DATE OF JOEL lect. 

837 and 817 B.C. No other date has been suggested 

in the regal period which has at all an equal degree 

of probability. 

Presump- The position of Joel in the series of the Minor 

by the posi- Prophets raises a presumption in favour of an early 

Hon of Joel 

among the date. It is the fashion to set aside this considera- 


Prophets. ^ion as en tirely worthless ; but it cannot be denied 
that the arrangement of the collection is in the 
main intended to be chronological. Hosea, Amos, 
Micah stand first as prophets of the Assyrian period ; 
Nahurn, Habakkuk, Zephaniah form a middle group in 
the half-century before the exile ; Haggai, Zechariah, 
and Malachi stand last as belonging to the period 
of the Restoration. The chronological intention in 
this grouping cannot be mistaken. But if Joel 
belonged to the later period, why was he not placed 
along with the prophets of that period ? If he lived 
late on in it — and the arguments which make for 
placing him in that period make for placing him 
decidedly late in it — it is hard to suppose that all 
tradition of his date could have been lost at the time 
when the collection was made, at the latest in the 
third century B.C., and very probably at an earlier 

The position of Joel in the collection of the 
Minor Prophets does no more than create a pre- 
sumption that, at the time when that collection was 
made, he was thought to have lived at an early 
period. But it may justify us in considering first 


whether the indications which can be gathered from 
his prophecy do not confirm that presumption. 

At the time when Joel prophesied the priests Thecharao 

teristics of 

were held in high esteem. The Temple services were the tim * 
regularly maintained, and were regarded as of great 
importance. The intermission of the daily meal- 
offering and drink-offering is regarded as the culmi- 
nating point of the calamity caused by the drought 
and the locusts, for it seems to signify nothing less 
than a rupture of the fellowship between Jehovah 
and His people. But religion was no mere outward 
formalism. The need of repentance, deep and 
thorough, is fully recognised, and is pressed upon the 
people in words that are true for all time (ii. 12 ff.). 
To judge from the absence of any denunciation 
of particular sins, such as injustice, immorality, or 
idolatry, the standard of morals and religion was 
high. Further, there is no reference to a king or 
court ; and the prophet's view is limited entirely 
to Judah ; there is no allusion to the Northern 

There is one period, and one only, in the history correspond 

to the cir- 

of Judah before the exile to which these indications cumstance* 

of the early 

can point. That period is, as has already been said, ^ n {/ / * e 
the earlier part of the reign of Joash. After Ahaziah Joash ' 
had been slain by Jehu, the throne of Judah was 
seized by the queen-mother Athaliah, the worthy 
daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings xi. 1 ff.). 
In Oriental fashion she murdered all the male 

60 DATE OF JOEL lect. 

members of the royal family, with the exception of 
Joash, who was saved from the massacre by his 
aunt Jehosheba, the wife of the high priest Jehoiada. 
For six years he was concealed in the Temple. 
Athaliah reigned with undisputed sway. Under her 
auspices Baal worship was publicly carried on in 

When Joash had entered on his seventh year, 
Jehoiada planned an insurrection, deposed Athaliah, 
who was put to death, and crowned and anointed 
Joash. A religious reformation followed. Baal 
worship was put down, and the Temple worship was 
reorganised. The change was evidently welcomed 
by the people, who hated Athaliah. and it was 
effected without serious opposition. All the people 
of the land, we are told, rejoiced, and the city was 
quiet (2 Kings xi. 20). Jehoiada became the young 
king's guardian. During his lifetime all went 
well. The worship of Jehovah was maintained, 
and the Temple was restored. It was not until 
after his death that the princes, jealous, no doubt, 
of the priestly influence at court, succeeded in mis- 
persuading the king, and a relapse into idolatry 
followed (2 Chron. xxiv. 17). 

During the minority of Joash a condition of affairs 
such as that indicated in Joel may well have existed. 
Priestly influence was in the ascendant. The person 
and authority of the king were in the background. 
There had been a popular reaction against the 


Baal worship of Athaliah's reign. The worship of 
Jehovah was, for the time at any rate, generally 

In this period, then, we find at any rate a possible This date. 

agrees with 

place for the prophecy of Joel ; and the possibility the «/«'•• 
that he flourished then is raised to a strong proba- {?£{%£, 
bility by the references in his book to foreign nations. 
We have already seen that this date will account 
for the absence of all mention of Syria, Assyria, and 
Babylon ; they had not yet come into conflict with 
Judah. But we have not only an argument from 
silence. The nations which are actually mentioned 
are nations which we know to have been enemies 
of Judah before the time of Joash. In ch. iii we 
have a prophecy of the judgement upon the heathen; 
and the nations which are singled out for special 
mention as enemies of Judah are the Phoenicians 
and Philistines {vv. 4 ff.), the Egyptians and Edoni- 
ites (v. 19). The Phoenicians and Philistines are 
charged with carrying off the spoils of Jehovah's 
people to decorate their temples, and with trafficking 
in Israelite slaves. The Egyptians and the Edomites 
are charged with the gratuitous murder of unoffend- 
ing Israelites in their land. Much stress can hardly Egypt 
be laid upon the mention of Judah's hereditary 
enemy, Egypt. Still, in the time of Joash not more 
than a century had elapsed since Shishak invaded 
Judah, and captured and plundered Jerusalem 
(1 Kings xiv. 25 f.). The memory of that disaster 



must still have survived. But Judah was smarting 
yet more keeuly under the sense of recent injury from 

Edom. Edom. From the time of David, Edom had been 
subject to Judah. Jehoshaphat exercised the rights 
of an overlord, summoned the king of Edom to 
follow him to battle, and marched through his 
country (1 Kings xxii. 47 ; 2 Kings iii. 9). But 
under his weak son and successor Jehoram, Edom 
revolted, probably, according to the revised chrono- 
logy, about B.C. 848 (2 Kings viii. 20-22). What 
more probable than that the revolt was accompanied 
by a massacre of Israelites resident in Edom — the 
shedding of innocent blood to which Joel refers ? 

Phiiistia. From the Philistines, too, Judah suffered heavily 

about the same time. In conjunction with the 
Arabians they invaded Judah, took and plundered 
Jerusalem, and carried away the treasures of 
Jehoram's palace, together with his sons and his 
wives (2 Chron. xxi. 16 ff.). It is not recorded that 

Phoenicia, the Phoenicians took any share in the attack. But 
they were the great slave-traders of the East. As we 
learn from Amos, they sold their captives for the 
Philistines (Amos i. 6, 9) ; and to the Israelite, with 
his keen love of freedom and attachment to his 
country, this was almost, if not quite, as great an 
injury as open hostility. Thus the mention of these 
four nations and no others as hostile to Judah 
strikingly supports the view that Joel prophesied 
in the early part of the reign of Joash. 


There is one possible historical allusion which a possible 


may be mentioned here. Though but little stress allusion. 
can be laid upon it, it points in the same direction as 
the references to foreign nations. The scene of the 
final overthrow of the heathen is laid in the Valley 
of Jehoshaphat (iii. 2, 12). The significance of the 
Dame Jehovah judgeth may be sufficient to account 
for its use ; but it undoubtedly gains in point if 
we may assume that there is in it an allusion to 
Jehoshaphat's great victory over the confederate 
forces of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, in which Jehovah 
fought for His people and inflicted judgement upon 
their enemies, who had mustered their forces with 
the intention of annihilating Judah (2 Chron. xx). 
It is at least possible that this great triumph over 
the nations, still fresh in the recollection of the 
people, for it happened only a quarter of a century 
before the time of Joash, supplied the prophet with 
his imagery and suggested his language. 1 

The probability of the early date of Joel is still Relation oj 

Joel to 

further confirmed by the consideration of the relation Amos. 

of Amos to Joel. Clearly either Amos is quoting 

Joel, or Joel is referring to Amos ; and, in spite of all 

that has been said to the contrary, I cannot but think 

1 The locality of Jehoshaphat's victory was in the neighbourhood 
of Engedi, in the wilderness of Tekoa. The tradition which assigns 
the name Valley of Jehoshaphat to the valley of the Kidron, 
between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, cannot be traced 
beyond the time of Eusebius and Jerome. That valley cannot be 
meant here. The term used, denoting a broad open vale, would 
be quite inapplicable to the narrow ravine of the Kidron. 

04 DATE OF JOEL lect. 

that it is Amos who is dependent on Joel. He opens 
his prophecy (Amos i. 2) by repeating the words of 
his predecessor (Joel hi. 16), Jehovah shall roar from 
Zion, as if to shew that he is continuing Joel's work, 
and that they are both alike messengers of the same 
God, Who will arise to judge the heathen. The con- 
nexion, moreover, lies deeper than a mere external 
coincidence of language. The Book of Joel closes 
with a vision of judgement on the nations, and a 
promise of prosperity for Judah. Amos takes up 
the thought of judgement, develops it in detail with 
specific threatenings, and warns Judah and Israel 
that they will not escape. But it is not only at the 
beginning of his book that Amos refers to Joel. He 
closes his prophecy (ix. 13) with a repetition of Joel's 
promise of marvellous fertility for the land of Judah 
(Joel iii. 18), as though he would declare that, 
although the promise has not yet been realised, God's 
word cannot fail of fulfilment. Thus in respect both 
of threatening and of promise he confirms the message 
of his predecessor. 

It has been maintained that Joel is borrowing the 
language of Amos. But both quotations are firmly 
embedded in the context of Joel, and they belong to 
his circle of ideas. How natural to the prophet for 
whom Jerusalem is the centre of thought and action 
are the words, Jehovah shall roar from Zion, and utter 
His voice from Jerusalem ! How appropriate in 
Joel is the promise of fertility in contrast to the 


scarcity caused by the locusts and the drought ! In 
Amos, on the other hand, the names Jerusalem and 
Zion occur each but once again (ii. 5 ; vi. 1) ; and 
however suitable the words may be as a trumpet- 
note of warning of impending judgement, they stand 
by themselves in no direct connexion with the con- 
text. It should be noted, moreover, that Amos 
continues with words which sound like a further 
reminiscence of the circumstances of the Book of 
Joel : The pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and 
the top of Garmel shall wither. Such language is 
natural to the shepherd- prophet, yet at the same 
time he seems to borrow a word from Joel. 1 

Again, Amos seems to refer to the circumstances 
described by Joel when he reminds the Israelites of 
the judgements by which Jehovah had called them 
to repentance (iv. 6 ff.). 2 The reproof, Yet have ye 
not returned unto Me, corresponds exactly to Joel's 
summons, Return unto Me with all your heart (ii. 12). 

Once more, it is plain that the day of Jehovah was 
a familiar idea to the people in the time of Amos 
(v. 18 ff.), though they misinterpreted its significance, 
claiming its blessings for themselves, and assigning 
its threatenings exclusively to their enemies. Such 
a misconception might easily have arisen from a 

1 This word for pastures is used here only by Amos, but occurs 
three times in Joel (i. 19, 20 ; ii. 22). 

2 Amos (iv. 9) uses the word gdzdm, A.V. palmer-worm, lit. 
biter, for some kind of locust. It is found in Joel i. 4 ; ii. 25, and 
nowhere else. 


66 DATE OF JOEL lect 

one-sided and partial interpretation of the prophecy 
of Joel. 
Relation It is, of course, impossible to affirm positively 

to Ezekiel 

that the prophecy of Joel is referred to by Ezekiel 
(xxxviii. 17 ; xxxix. 8), when he speaks of ancient 
prophecies which had predicted the great final 
assault of the powers of the world upon Israel, but 
it is at least important to observe that the conception 
of a conflict between the confederate nations and 
Israel, and the supernatural destruction of the nations 
who defy Jehovah in defying His people, is no new 
idea in Ezekiel's time. Ezekiel's emphatic language 
in ancient days (xxxviii. 17) scarcely allows us to 
suppose that he is referring to the quite recent 
utterances of Zephaniah and Jeremiah ; but it would 
be natural if he had Joel in mind, and Joel had 
prophesied more than two centuries before. 
Arguments Such are some of the principal reasons for 
exilic date regarding Joel as one of the earliest of the prophets. 
We must, however, examine the arguments urged 
with equal confidence for placing him after the return 
from the Captivity. It is alleged that the language of 
ch. iii. 1 ff., 17 is decisive for a date after the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem in B.C. 586 ; that the absence of all 
allusion to the Northern Kingdom, or to a king and 
princes, points to a time when that kingdom had 
passed away, and even Judah had no longer a king 
or court, but was governed by priests and elders ; 
that the sale of Israelite slaves to the sons of Javan, 


or Ionian Greeks (iii. 6), indicates a late date, for 
down to the time of Ezekiel the Ionians were 
bringing slaves to Tyre (Ezek. xxvii. 13); that the 
ideas of the book are hierarchical and ceremonial, 
and only conceivable in the period of the Eestoration, 
and in the small community of the returned exiles ; 
that the absence of reproof for special sins, and in 
particular for idolatry, cannot be reconciled with all 
that we know of pre-exilic times ; that the attitude 
of the prophet towards the heathen nations shews an 
approximation towards the narrow exclusiveness of 
later Judaism. The general tendency of recent criti- 
cism has been in favour of a post-exilic date ; but to 
what precise epoch of the post-exilic period the book 
should be assigned is a much disputed point. It 
cannot well be earlier than B.C. 500, for the Temple 
is standing, and its services are regularly performed. 
To a date about this time some critics would assign 
it, but according to others it is later than the reforms 
of Ezra and Nehemiah, and must be placed about 
B.C. 400, or even later. Those who adopt the later 
date for the most part regard Joel as a kind of com- 
pendium of Jewish eschatology, and the forerunner 
of the later apocalyptic literature. 

These arguments seem formidable, but their force of doubtful 
diminishes upon closer examination. The phrase 
in ch. iii. 1, rendered in our English Versions bring 
again the captivity, probably means restore the fortune, 
and does not necessarily denote restoration from exile 

68 DATE OF JOEL lect. 

In any case it is no proof of a post-exilic date, for it 
is used by Amos (ix. 14) and Hosea (vi. 11), when 
they look beyond the disasters which they foresee 
are in store for Israel, to the restoration of the people 
in the distant future. Joel speaks of a dispersion 
of Israel among the nations (iii. 2), but the context 
shews that it is not the deportation of the people 
en masse by its Assyrian or Babylonian conquerors 
to which he refers, but rather the sale of captives as 
slaves to distant nations (vv. 6, 7), for which Amos 
condemns Gaza and Tyre with stern severity (i. 6, 9). 
The division of Jehovah's land (iii. 2) is not the 
conquest of the whole country by the Chaldeans (in 
what sense was that a division of the land among 
the nations?), but the seizure or reconquest of territory 
which had once belonged to Judah, by Philistines, 
Edomites, and other neighbouring nations, which, as 
we have seen, took place in the reign of Jehoram. 

The silence of Joel about the Northern Kingdom 
may be due not to the fact that this kingdom had 
ceased to exist, but to the limited circle of Joel's 
interests. His silence, moreover, admits of a very 
natural explanation, if he was writing at a time 
when Judah was still smarting from the recollection 
of the cruel tyranny of Athaliah. It is easy to 
understand how the hopes of reunion which appear 
in almost all the other prophets might, under these 
circumstances, fall into the background. 

The absence of all mention of the king and court 


is sufficiently accounted for by the peculiar circum- 
stances of the minority of Joash. Too much stress 
must not be laid upon it. The Book of Micah con- 
tains no reference to Hezekiah, except in the title, 
though, as we know from the Book of Jeremiah 
(xxvi. 18), he came into close personal relations 
with him. 

The predominant influence of the priesthood, and 
the importance attached to ceremonial, have been 
somewhat exaggerated. But Jehoiada could not 
have occupied the position which he did without 
increasing the influence of his class. Devotion to 
ceremonial was by no means limited to post-exilic 
times. Isaiah's complaint is that it was regarded as 
the sum and substance of religion. 

Elders, if indeed magistrates are denoted by the 
term at all in Joel, 1 were not an institution peculiar 
to post-exilic times. On the contrary, they are more 
often mentioned before the exile than after it. 

The absence of rebuke for particular sins, and the 
attitude of the prophet towards the nations, are at 
least as difficult to explain on the hypothesis of the 
late date as on that of the early date. In the first 
quarter of a century after the Beturn, Haggai and 
Zechariah have abundant fault to find with the 
people. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi find even 

1 In ch. i. 14 the right rendering may possibly be Gather, ye 
elders, the inhabitants, etc. , but it is not certain. In ch. i. 2 ; 
ii. 16, the context shews that old men are meant 

70 DATE OF JOEL lect 

graver offences to rebuke. The circumstances of 
the Book of Joel do not agree with what we know of 
either of these periods ; and in fact the advocates of 
the post-exilic date generally avoid the difficulty by 
placing the book in the interval between Zechariah 
and Ezra, or some considerable time after Malachi — 
two periods of which we know practically nothing. 
All the later prophets look forward to the conver- 
sion of at least a remnant of the nations. Joel's 
" particularism " may be due to his early date rather 
than to the advance of a spirit of Judaism. Hosea 
is wholly silent about the destiny of the nations. 
Amos looks forward to their conquest, not their 
conversion (ix. 12). 

The argument from the course of the slave trade 
between Phoenicia and Ionia can hardly be pressed. 
The Phoenicians maintained intercourse with the 
Ionian Greeks from the earliest times. 1 Syrian 
slaves may have been transported to Asia Minor 
then as they were afterwards ; and Joel would 
select the Ionians for mention as the remotest region 
to which his countrymen had been carried away. 

1 Homer (II. xxiii. 740) speaks of — 

"A silver bowl well wrought, 
By Sidon's artists cunningly adorned. 
Borne by Phoenicians o'er the dark blue sea ' ; 

and one of the Tell-el-Amarna tablets (b.c. 1400) mentions Ionians 
in connexion with Tyre. See Sayce in The Academy, 17th Oct. 1891, 
p. 340. That Javan means Ionia seems probable, but even on this 
point critics are not agreed. Sayce (Smith's Diet. Bible, ed. 2, 
i. 573) supposes it to be Cyprus: others place it in South Arabia. 


The positive arguments for the early date of Joel 
seem to me decidedly to preponderate, and the force 
of those for the late date diminishes upon examina- 
tion. It is extremely difficult to see how Joel can be 
fitted into any part of the period after the Eeturn 
without considerable assumptions ; and it is admitted 
that we are not in a position to explain his refer- 
ences to surrounding nations from the circumstances 
of that period. There is an entire absence of indica- 
tions that the prophet is living in a small, struggling, 
despised community. The Temple worship is firmly 
established and regularly organised. There is no 
sign of the apathy and neglect which Haggai and 
Zechariah rebuke, or of the contemptuous indifference 
which Malachi censures. 

Attention has been called to the resemblance comparison 

of Joel with 

between Joel and Zechariah xii-xiv, and they have z ? ch - *«- 

' XIV. 

been assigned approximately to the same period. 1 
The comparison is instructive, for there are certain 
resemblances, but the contrasts are greater than the 
resemblances. Joel's prophecy springs out of the 
actual circumstances of his time. It is emphatically 
a message to his contemporaries. It summons them 
to humiliation and penitence. It promises the 
removal of the plague from which they have been 
suffering. When he goes on to speak of the more 
distant future, it is in terms suggested by, and closely 
related to, the circumstances of the present. Zechariah 
1 See Cheyne's Bampton Lectures, p. xx. 


xii-xiv, on the other hand, is not based upon present 
circumstances. It is apocalyptic and eschatological, 
rather than prophetic and didactic. It deals simply 
with the distant future. The difference between 
the two works seems to me so marked that if, as I 
hope to shew, Zechariah xii-xiv belongs to the post- 
exilic period, a strong presumption is raised against 
the probability that Joel can be referred to the same 

The question may naturally be asked, how it can 
be that style and language do not at once enable us 
to decide between dates so far apart as the ninth 
and fifth, or even fourth, centuries B.C. ? The most 
opposite conclusions have been drawn from the style 
of Joel. To one critic its smooth, flowing simplicity 
appears to be a certain indication of high antiquity ; 
another regards it as the result of art and familiarity 
with the older literature. But style, if we may judge 
from modern instances, depends at least as much 
upon the individual as upon the age ; and in the 
case of the prophets it probably depends largely 
upon the way in which the books were committed 
to writing. The remains of Hebrew literature 
are too scanty for us to decide with certainty 
what was and what was not possible in a particular 
period. The uniformity of the Massoretic punctuation 
has probably obliterated many distinctions of pro- 
nunciation which would have served as landmarks. 
For these reasons it is doubtful if the argument from 


Joel's style and language can be laid in the scale on 
either side. But it is a strange misrepresentation to 
say that " the language of Joel plainly bears the 
character of the latest period of Hebrew literature." 
If any argument can be drawn from it, it is in favour 
of the early date. 

Joel, if we are right in assigning him to the ninth Teaching oj 

Joel : — 

century B.C., leads the way in the series of prophecies The da y °f 

which culminate in the Apocalypse. In the plague 

of locusts and drought, which was the occasion of 

his prophecy, he saw a sign and a presage of the great 

day of judgement and redemption — the day of Jehovah. 

It seems to be close at hand. Alas for the day ! 

for the day of Jehovah is at hand, and as destruction 

from the Almighty shall it come. . . . Great is the day 

of Jehovah and very terrible ! and who can abide it ? 

But repentance may avert the final catastrophe. 

Jehovah is gracious and full of compassion, slow to 

anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repenting 

Him of the evil. If the visitation bears its fruit in 

penitence, He may send blessing to take the place 

of judgement. 

The people obeyed the prophet's warning and 
repented, and he was commissioned to assure them 
of the speedy removal of the scourge from which 
they had suffered, and of the complete restoration of 
the fertility of their land. 


But he would not have them rest contented with 
this immediate and temporal blessing. This present 
experience is intended as a presage of spiritual bless- 
ing, and a warning of decisive judgement. The great 
day of Jehovah is still to come, heralded by terrible 
signs in nature, wonders in the heavens and in the earth, 
blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. While for the 
nations who have misused the people of Jehovah and 
defied Him it will be a time of judgement and retri- 
bution, for Israel it will be a time of the outpouring 
of the spirit of Jehovah, of deliverance in the midst 
of judgement. 
The out- And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will 

pouring of 

the writ of powr out My spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons and 
your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall 
dream dreams, your young men shall see visions : and 
even upon the slaves and upon the handmaids in those 
days will I pour out My spirit (ii. 28, 29). 

Universal as the promise to all flesh seems at 
first sight to be, the context and the explanation, 
upon your sons and upon your daughters, shew that in 
its first and original intention it is limited to Israel. 
The words admit of the larger meaning which was 
given them on the day of Pentecost, but it does not 
appear to be as yet explicitly present to the prophet's 
mind. He foretells the realisation of Moses' wish, 
Would God that all Jehovah's people were prophets, that 
Jehovah would put His spirit upon them (Num. xi. 29). 
In the new age the whole nation will receive the 


gift of the divine spirit, and participate in that 
prophetic illumination which as yet is granted only 
to a few select individuals. Inferiority of position 
will be no bar to privilege. Even slaves will share 
the blessing. 

The promise of the outpouring of the spirit was Fulfilment 

r r o r of the pro- 

fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 14 ff.). mUeat 

The prophecy did not, indeed, refer solely to the 

Pentecostal gift, nor was it exhausted in it. £_But the 

miracle of Pentecost ushered in the new dispensation 

to which Joel had pointed, and in which his words 

are to receive an ever -increasing fulfilment^ It is 

noteworthy that a larger meaning is attached to 

the words. All flesh is extended to include Gentile 

as well as Jew. And that which Joel speaks of as 

the action of Jehovah Himself is attributed to the 

Eisen and Ascended Lord (Acts ii. 33). Nor does 

St. Peter omit the words which tell of the approach 

of the day of the Lord in its aspect of terror. Grace 

and judgement move side by side. The Fall o f 

Jerusalem was the sequel of the day of Pentecost. 

For those who would not receive their God when He 

came in mercy, He must appear in wrath. 

The day of Jehovah will come with its attendant The deliver. 

ante of 

terrors. But it will not be a day of terror for Israel, lsrael - 
for whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be 
delivered : for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall 
be a company that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and 
among the survivors shall be those uohom Jehovah calleth 


(ii. 32). 1 Here, too, the primary reference appears to 
be to Israel ; and although the words admit of a wider 
meaning, it is implicit, and not definitely expressed. 
The judge- The counterpart of this picture of Israel's illumin- 

ment of the . . . . . 

nations. ation and deliverance is the judgement of the nations, 
They are summoned before Jehovah's tribunal to 
answer for their offences against His people. Those 
who have plundered Jerusalem, and sold Israelite 
captives into distant slavery, will themselves in turn 
meet the like fate. 

Another scene follows. The nations are ironically 
challenged to muster for the final conflict. Jehovah 
brings down His heavenly hosts to battle against 
them. The day of His final triumph is at hand. The 
prophet leaves the doom of the insurgent armies to 
his reader's imagination, and turns to picture the 
felicity of Zion, when Jerusalem shall be holy, and 
there shall no strangers pass through her any more , 
when there shall be no more scarcity and drought, but 
perennial streams will fertilise even the barren ravine 
of the acacias ; when the Presence of Jehovah among 
His people will at length be fully realised. 

Limitations The limitations of Joel's prophecy require careful 

of Joels pro- . _ _ . , . 

phecy as notice, i or him the great contrast is between Israel 


(a) The an d the nations. Israel is to be saved and glorified. 

srtlration of ° 

the nations, rphe na ti ns are to be judged. The contrast between 
the righteous and the ungodly within the chosen 

1 On the probability that here and elsewhere Joel refers tc 
Obadiah, see above, p. 40. 


people, and the hope of the salvation of at least a 
remnant among the heathen nations, lie outside the 
circle of Joel's teaching. There are none of the stern 
warnings which we find in almost every other prophet, 
that the day of Jehovah will be a day of terror and 
doom to the sinners even among His own people ; 
none of the glorious hopes which meet us alike in 
the prophets of the eighth century and in the prophets 
of the Eestoration, that the nations will one day pay 
homage to Jehovah, and come to Zion for instruction. 
If there is room in his words for both warning and 
hope, at any rate they are not explicitly expressed. 
Can these limitations best be explained on the 
hypothesis of an early or a late date ? Has the 
universalism of Messianic prophecy not yet been 
reached ? or is the stern exclusiveness of later Judaism 
already clouding over the larger hope ? Surely it 
is natural to see in them the unexpanded bud of 
prophecy, rather than its withered flower. 
\ The author of deliverance is Jehovah Himself. (&) a per 


There is no prediction of a Teacher 1 or Deliverer or Messiah, 

1 The rendering of ch. ii. 23 : For He hath given you the 
teacher for righteousness, which is followed by the Targum and 
Vulgate (quia dedit vobis doctorem iustitiae), cannot be defended. 
The context makes it clear that moreh must mean, as it does in 
the next clause, the former rain. The meaning of the words for 
righteousness is, however, difficult. The rendering moderately 
(A. V.), or in just measure (R. V.), is questionable, for the word 
righteousness in the O.T. always has an ethical sense. Probably 
for righteousness means either — (a) in proof of His righteousness 
or faithfulness to His covenant (Isa. Ii. 5, 6) ; or (b) in token of 


King who will be His earthly representative. Him- 
self He sits to judge the nations. In person He 
takes up His abode in Zion. 
(e) ethical Joel has been charged with " a want of ethical 

teaching. ... 

interest. The moral element in his prophecy is 
said to be subordinated to the longing for a national 
triumph over the heathen. The criticism, I must 
say, seems to me a shallow one. Eepentance deep 
and sincere is urged upon the people in the strongest 
terms. The locust plague is viewed as a divine call 
to return to Jehovah. It is true that repentance is 
not defined, and that particular sins are not singled 
out for condemnation. But we cannot tell how far 
these brief utterances may have been supplemented 
by oral teaching. Returning to Jehovah sums up 
the duty of His people who had wandered from 
Him. The promise of the outpouring of the spirit 
recognises most fully man's need of the infusion of a 
supernatural life, and his capacity for being raised 
above his natural self. 

The dwelling of Jehovah among His people, 
which is the final goal of the prophecy, implies 
that they have been fitted for His immediate 
presence. And if the relation of Israel to the 
nations may seem at first sight to be tinged with a 
spirit of narrow nationalism, it must be remembered 
that the conflict between Israel and the nations was 

your righteousness, i.e. your justification and restoration to God's 
favour (Job xxxiii. 26). 


the form in which the great conflict between good 
and evil, between God and His enemies, presented 
itself to Joel under the circumstances of his age. 

Thus, then, at the time when Israel was about to conclusion 
come in contact with the great powers of the ancient 
world, and fainting spirits might be tempted to 
tremble for the very existence of the people of God, 
Joel was inspired confidently to predict the final 
issue of the conflict between the people of God and 
the powers of the world. Be it never so long 
delayed, the day of Jehovah must come, when He 
will be finally triumphant over every enemy. Be 
His own people never so obstinate, the goal must 
finally be reached, when the words shall be fulfilled : 
Jehovah dwelleth in Zion. 



o 8( fier (.irifj.eX.elas teal Trpo<ro)(rjs ii'Tvy)(dv(x)v tois 
irpocf>7]TiKoi<i Aoyois, iradiiiv «£ avrov toG dvay ty v<xktk(.iv 
l\vos evdovcna(xp.ov, 6Y &v iracryti ireurdt'^creraL ovk dvdpui- 
iro)v eivai (rvyypdfifiaTa tovs Treir icrrevp-evovs Qeov Xoyovs. 

The diligent and attentive 6tudent of the words of the 
prophets will feel from reading them the traces of their 
inspiration, and from that feeling will be persuaded that 
what are believed to be the words of God are no mere 
human compositions. 




Let judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a 
mighty stream. — Amos v. 24. 

Four of the prophets whose writings have been pre- The pro- 

phets of the 

served to us belong to what may be termed the Assyrian 

° \ period. 

Assyrian period : the period in which the Northern 
Kingdom fell before the advancing armies of Tiglath- 
Pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sargon ; and the Southern 
Kingdom, after becoming a tributary vassal of the 
great king, only escaped from a like fate by the 
miraculous intervention of Jehovah for the deliver- 
ance of His people. Of these four prophets Amos 
and Hosea prophesied to Israel, Isaiah and Micah to 
Judah. Amos and Hosea were in part contemporary, 
but Amos was somewhat the earlier of the two. 
They both commenced their ministry in the reign of 
Jeroboam II ; but while there are no indications that 
any of the extant prophecies of Amos were delivered 


after that reign, Hosea's activity certainly continued 
into the period of political chaos which followed upon 
the death of that powerful monarch. 


Date of The precise note of time prefixed to the prophecy 
of Amos (i. 1), two years before the earthquake, prob- 
ably refers to his mission to Bethel (vii. 9 ff.). The 
memory of that earthquake long survived, preserved 
possibly by its visible effects ; a but the date of it is 
no longer known. We shall not, however, be far 
wrong if we place the ministry of Amos in the 
second half of Jeroboam's reign. The victories by 
which he restored the border of Israel from the entering 
in of Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah, had already 
been won when Amos prophesied, 2 and the prosperity 
which was the result of these successes had already 
begun to bear evil fruit in the spirit of luxury and 
overweening self-confidence. If Jeroboam's reign, as 
seems most probable, lasted until B.C. 749, or even a 
few years later, the mission of Amos is probably to 
be placed about B.C. 760. On the other hand, none of 
Hosea's prophecies can well be later than B.C. 734. 3 
Thus the two prophets fall within the same quarter 
of a century, and though Amos preceded Hosea, it 
can at the most have been by but a few years. 

1 Zech. xiv. 5 ; cp. Note B to Lect. XV, p. 478. 
8 Cp. Amos vi. 14 with 2 Kings xiv. 25. 3 See pp. 110 ff. 



But the recorded prophecies of these two con- contrast 


temporary prophets present a singular contrast, which j™°* «»<* 
it is well to bear in mind in studying their books. 
It cannot be accounted for by the fact that Amos, 
though he prophesied to Israel, was a native of 
Judah, while Hosea was a native of the Northern 
Kingdom; nor need it be supposed that either of 
them ignored the truths which the other teaches, for 
Hosea seems to have been acquainted with the 
writings of Amos. 1 But they offer a remarkable 
illustration of the principle which it is essential to 
bear in mind for the study of the Old Testament as 
well as of the New, that God chooses one man to 
present one portion or one aspect of the whole sum of 
truth, and another man to present another portion or 
another aspect of it. The fourfold Gospel gives a 
more complete portraiture of our Lord's life and 
work than a single narrative could have done. St. 
Peter and St. John, St. James and St. Paul, have 
each a distinctive and characteristic message to de- 
liver. Perhaps with our present limited faculties we 
are more impressed by truth when one part of it is 
presented to us boldly without reserve or qualifica- 
tion, and then another part offered for our accept- 

1 Cp. Hos. viii. 14 with Amos ii. 5 ; Hos. xii. 9 f. with Amos ii. 
10 f. 


ance with equal definiteness and emphasis. The teach- 
ings which a hasty judgement may pronounce to be 
contradictory are in fact complementary : conscience, 
not logic, will adjust the balance between them. 

So it is with Amos and Hosea. Amos starts 
from the thought of the universal sovereignty of 
Jehovah. He is a preacher of a righteousness. His 
soul is filled with a sense of the need for justice. 
He says comparatively little about deeper motives. 
Humanity in man's dealings with his fellow-man is 
a universal duty, incumbent upon and recognisable 
by nations outside the sphere of special revelation. 
Hosea starts from the thought of Jehovah's relation 
to Israel. He is the preacher of mercy and loving- 
kindness. He points to the inner motives of human 
conduct, and deals with man's duty to his fellow-man 
in the light of his duty to God and in virtue of God's 
choice of Israel. His spirit is full of a pathetic 
tenderness, learnt in the school of sorrow. 


cimim- The period in which Amos was called to his pro- 

stances of 

the time, phetic work was one of singular external prosperity 
for both Israel and Judah. Israel had recently re- 
covered from a state of extreme depression. During 
the reign of Jehoahaz, the son and successor of Jehu, 
it had suffered most severely from the Syrians 
under Hazael and Benhadad III. Hazael took all 


the Israelite territory beyond the Jordan, and even 
captured some cities on the western side of it. The 
army of Israel was reduced to a nominal strength. 
Its weakness is indicated by the repeated raids of the 
Moabites, who penetrated even into the neighbour- 
hood of Samaria (2 Kings x. 32 f. ; xiii. 3, 7, 20, 22, 
25). The nation seemed to be on the brink of de- 
struction. But the hour of Israel's fall had not yet 
come. It was to have one more respite. 

Stimulated by Elisha's dying charge, Joash, the 
son and successor of Jehoahaz, recovered the cities 
which his father had lost to the west of the Jordan. 
It is probable that these successes were partly due to 
the fact that the strength of Syria was otherwise 
occupied in grappling with a new enemy on the north. 
The Assyrians were advancing southwards. Jehu is 
named on the ' black obelisk ' of Shalmaneser II as 
having paid him tribute in B.C. 842. But they 
began by concentrating their attack upon Syria. For 
the time Damascus served as a barrier to check the 
tide of their conquests, and their successes relieved 
Israel from the presence of their formidable neigh- 

Joash, however, did not follow up his victories ; 
and it was reserved for Jeroboam II to be the saviour 
of Israel (2 Kings xiii. 4 f. ; xiv. 26 f). He assumed 
the aggressive, recovered the territory of Israel on 
the east of the Jordan from Hamath in the valley of 
the Orontes on the north to the Dead Sea on the 


south, and even captured Damascus (2 Kings xiv. 25, 
28). Almost simultaneously Uzziah was strengthening 
the power of Judah in the south ; and the two king- 
doms rose to a pitch of power and prosperity greater 
than they had enjoyed since the days of Solomon. 
internal B u t prosperity, as it so often has done, brought 

condition oj r r J » o 

Israel. grave evils in its train. The brief chronicle in the 
Book of Kings does little more than give a bare out- 
line of the external history. It is from the pages of 
Amos and Hosea that we must draw the materials 
for a picture of the actual condition of the people in 
the Northern Kingdom. There we get a glimpse of a 
state of society from which the primitive simplicity 
and equality had disappeared. A class of wealthy 
nobles had arisen, who had swept the smaller hold- 
ings together into vast estates in defiance of the 
fundamental principles of the constitution, and mis- 
used their power to oppress the masses, who had 
sunk into a condition of poverty and in some cases 
even actual slavery. 1 

Let us turn to the pages of Amos, and note what 
he saw beneath the apparent prosperity and external 
splendour of Jeroboam's reign. The luxury of the 
rich was conspicuous. They had their winter and 
summer residences (iii. 15), which were built of hewn 
stone, panelled with ivory, and furnished with couches 
inlaid with the same costly material (v. 11 ; iii. 15 ; 
vi. 4), where they feasted and drank to excess amid 

1 See Robertson Smith's Prophets of Israel, p. 93. 


delicate perfumes, and soft strains of varied music 
(vi. 4-6). But these luxuries were obtained by means 
which Amos bluntly calls violence and robbery (iii. 10); 
by oppression of the poor and needy, who were even 
sold as slaves by their remorseless creditors (ii. 6-8) ; 
by dishonest trading, by false weights, and worthless 
goods (viii. 4-6) ; by exacting presents and taking 
bribes (v. 11, 12). Women shewed themselves as 
cruel and hard-hearted as men, imperiously demand- 
ing from their husbands the means for the supply of 
their luxuries, regardless of the fact that they were to 
be procured at the expense of the poor and needy 
(iv. 1). 

Public and private virtues alike had decayed. The 
venality of the judges — that perpetual curse of 
Oriental countries — was notorious. The poor man 
need not look for redress in the courts where justice 
was openly bought and sold (v. 7, 12). Licentious- 
ness of the grossest kind was unblushingly practised 
(ii. 7). Tradesmen made no secret of their covetous- 
ness and dishonesty (viii. 4 ff.). Humane laws were 
openly ignored (ii. 8). 

And withal no reproof of these practices was 
tolerated. The suggestion of the duty of upright 
dealing was sufficient to make a man unpopular 
(v. 10). Engrossed with their own pleasures, the nobles 
shewed a callous indifference to the moral ruin of 
their country (vi. 6). Confident in the continuance 
of a prosperity which they attributed to their own 


exertions, they had no fear of impending judgement 
(vi. 1, 13). 

The outward ordinances of worship were zealously 
observed at the various sanctuaries. Sacrifices and 
burnt offerings and meal offerings and thank offerings 
and freewill offerings were brought in abundance. 
New moons and Sabbaths and festivals were ob- 
served. The joyous songs of the worshippers re- 
sounded in their sanctuaries (v. 21 ff. ; iv. 4 f. ; viii. 3, 
5, 10). They trusted in the privilege of descent (iii. 
2 ; ix. 7). Was not Jehovah of hosts in their midst ? 
Did they not duly propitiate Him in the manner He 
desired ? Could He possibly desert them ? Surely 
the day, whenever it might come, in which He would 
manifest His Presence more immediately and visibly, 
must be a welcome day of blessing for Israel, and 
discomfiture for Israel's enemies ! (v. 14, 18). 

Personal Such was the state of society in Northern Israel 

Amo7. ° when Amos was sent on his mission. His home was at 

Tekoa, about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, whence 

came the " wise woman " who was employed by Joab 

to procure Absalom's recall (2 Sam. xiv. 2). He was 

no prophet by birth or education, 1 but a shepherd or 

1 When Amos disclaims being a prophet's son (vii. 14), he 
may refer to his natural parentage ; but it is certainly possible that 
he means that he had not been trained in the 'schools of the 
prophets.' So R.V. marg., one of the sons of the prophets. Cp 
1 Kings xx. 35. 


herdman, 1 and dresser of sycamore trees, which were 
cultivated both for their fruit and for their durable 
wood (1 Chron. xxvii. 28 ; Isa. ix. 10). He may have 
partly owned the flocks and the trees which he tended, 
but the fact that he followed the flock (vii. 15), makes 
it clear that he was not a wealthy noble, but a yeo- 
man like Elisha who worked upon his own farm, or 
perhaps of still humbler position. The language of 
his prophecy bears numerous traces of the character 
of his occupation. The significance of the phe- 
nomena of nature, familiar to one whose life was 
spent in the open air, impressed itself deeply upon 
him (iv. 13 ; v. 8 ; ix. 5, 6). The waggon loaded 
with sheaves (ii. 13) ; the lion growling over his 
prey (iii. 4) ; the remnants of his prey recovered by 
the shepherd out of the lion's mouth (iii. 12) ; the 
bear, more formidable to the shepherd than even the 
lion (v. 19) ; the snares set for birds (iii. 5) ; plough- 
ing (vi. 12) ; cattle-driving (iv. 3); corn-winnowing 
(ix. 9); the locusts devouring the aftermath (vii. 1 ff.); 
the basket of summer fruit (viii. 1 ff.), — supply 
him with imagery which he uses with perfect natural- 
ness, as might be expected from one who was brought 
up to the calling of a shepherd and husbandman. 

1 In ch. i. 1 he is said to have been among the shepherds of 
Tekoa. The term noked here used occurs elsewhere in the Old 
Testament only in 2 Kings iii. 4, where it is applied to Mesha 
(A.V. sheepmaster). It appears to denote the owner or keeper of 
a particular breed of sheep or goats, small and ugly, but valuable 
for their wool. In ch. vii. 14, 15, Amos describes himself as a 
herdman, and says that Jehovah took him from following the flock. 


ins mission At the divine call Amos left his flocks and herds 

to lletli-ef. 

and sycamore groves at Tekoa, and journeyed to 
Beth-el. There, under the shadow of the royal 
palace and sanctuary, he publicly delivered his 
message. 1 How much of the book as we now have 
it was thus orally delivered, we cannot tell. But no 
doubt the substance of the prophecy against Israel 
which occupies the greater part of it was actually 
spoken. The climax was reached when he foretold 
the destruction of the sanctuaries of Israel, the fall 
of the house of Jeroboam, and the captivity of the 
people. Amaziah the priest of Beth-el interposed, 
and sent word to Jeroboam, charging Amos with 
treason. Amaziah evidently dared not lay violent 
hands on the sacrosanct person of a prophet without 
the Icing's authority. But he strove to silence the 
unwelcome visitor, and bade him flee to his own 
home, and prophesy there. Amos defended his 
action. It was no self-chosen task, but one imposed 
upon him, contrary to all expectation, by a divine 
mandate which he could not resist. And he pro- 
nounces a solemn sentence upon Amaziah. Though 
he might now be able to silence the prophet, he was 
destined himself to experience the fulfilment of his 

1 It is possible that he went as far as Samaria. The addresses 
in chaps, iii-vi seem, in part at least, more suitable to Samaria 
than to Beth-el. See iii. 9 ; iv. I ; vL 1. 



It seems probable that Amos went home to The Book of 


Tekoa, and there committed his prophecies to writ- 
ing. The book bears evidence of more orderly and 
systematic arrangement than would be likely to have 
characterised the spoken prophecies. 1 In particular, 
the prophecies against surrounding nations, and 
against Judah, with which it opens, would scarcely 
have been spoken in Beth-el. If, as there seems do 
reason to doubt, the title is from the prophet's own 
hand, at least two years must have elapsed before it 
was completed. 

The series of prophecies against the nations which The pro- 
forms the prologue to the book is noteworthy, alike against the 

* ° * ' nations. 

for the view of the universal sovereignty of Jehovah Chaps - *• li 
which it presents, and for the doctrine of the moral 
responsibility of the heathen which it assumes. 
Here, in the earliest of the prophets whose date 
is universally acknowledged, Jehovah is already 
presented to view as the supreme Euler of the 
world. He is not Israel's God alone, though He 
is Israel's God in a special sense, for He has chosen 
Israel out of all the families of the earth to be His 
own people. But He who is the all-sovereign 
Creator of the universe, orders the migrations of the 
nations, and cares for their welfare. It is He who 

1 See Note A, p. 107. 


brought up the Philistines from Caphtor and the 
Syrians from Kir, not less than Israel from the land 
of Egypt (ix. 7). He has the right and the power 
to punish them for their offences. What then are 
the offences of which they have been guilty? In 
part no doubt it is for hostility to Israel that they 
are condemned ; but in the main it is for inhumanity, 
for breaches of those natural laws of piety written in 
the heart and conscience of man, by which the 
relation of man to man and nation to nation ought 
to be governed. The gravamen of the offence lies 
in its character, not in the fact that it is committed 
against Jehovah's people. Thus Syria is condemned 
for the barbarous destructiveness of its wars 
against Gilead ; Philistia for merciless deportation 
of captives into slavery; Tyre for a like offence, 
aggravated by the forgetfulness of the brotherly 
covenant made by Hiram with David and Solomon ; 
Edom for pitiless hostility, and that against his own 
brother ; Ammon for savage brutality in warfare ; 
Moab, most notable instance of all, for an act of sense- 
less insult, which violated the natural laws of respect 
for the dead. The condemnation of these nations 
implies that even the heathen possessed some know- 
ledge of right, which carried with it a corresponding 
degree of moral responsibility. The violation of the 
natural laws of humanity written in their hearts 
demands punishment. They are capable of exercis- 
ing moral judgements. Even the Philistines and 


Egyptians are summoned as witnesses of the wrongs 
which are perpetrated in Samaria (iii. 9). 

With Judah and Israel it is otherwise. Judah is Judah ana 

i • • i Israel. 

condemned for disregard of the divine revelation 
made to it : because they have rejected the law of 
Jehovah, and have not kept His statutes, and their lies, 
the false gods which they have chosen, have caused 
them to err (ii. 4). Israel is condemned for in- 
humanity and debauchery ; and their misconduct is 
aggravated by forgetfulness of all that Jehovah had 
done for them in bringing them out of Egypt, and 
establishing them in the land of Canaan. They have 
been admonished by a succession of prophets; but 
they have silenced the prophets whose rebukes 
disturbed their complacency. They have had the 
Nazarites before their eyes as a standing example 
of self-control, but they had done their best to 
corrupt those whose ascetic lives were a constant 
rebuke of their self-indulgence (ii. 6-12). 


The storm of judgement which has swept over the Israels dm 


surrounding nations from north to south, and from »*-*«■ 
west to east, remains suspended in all its intensity 
over Israel. It was to Israel that Amos was 
specially sent, and upon them the full force of his 
moral indignation is let loose. The sins which were 
rife in the state of society which has already been 


described — covetousness and dishonesty, cruel treat- 
ment of the poor and defenceless, open violation of 
humane laws, perversion of justice, selfish and idle 
luxury, immorality and profanity — all in succession 
are dragged to the light and unsparingly denounced. 
Eepeated chastisements have had no effect upon them 
(iv. 6 ff.) : they are ripe for judgement ; let them 
prepare to meet their God ; to seek Him is the one 
condition of life ; and if they do not seek Him, He 
will break forth as a consuming fire that none can 

By the side of Israel's moral offences, their cere- 
monial errors fall comparatively into the background. 
Amos goes to the root of the matter, and deals with 
the attitude of the people's heart and will towards 
Jehovah. How could any worship, offered by hands 
so stained with sin, from hearts so absolutely indif- 
ferent not merely to Jehovah's known requirements, 
but to the common dictates of morality, be possibly 
acceptable ? But it is scarcely true to say that 
Amos "expresses no dread of the religious symbolism 
prevalent in Northern Israel"; that "like Elijah and 
Elisha, he lets the golden calves pass without a word 
of protest." 1 Elijah and Elisha were face to face 
with the graver question whether Baal or Jehovah 
was to be Israel's God. Amos was face to face with 
the scarcely less grave moral question, what concep- 

1 Cheyne, Eosea, p. 31. See Davidson's criticism in The 
Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. v, pp. 174 fl'. 


tion Israel formed of Jehovah and His requirements. 
This question overshadows everything else. But 
apart from the indispensable moral conditions of true 
worship, it is clear that he regards the worship 
carried on in sanctuaries of their own choice, with 
ceremonies of their own devising, as no true seeking 
of Jehovah. Their altars are to be destroyed. In 
the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel 
upon him, I will also visit the altars of Beth-el, and the 
horns of the altar shall he cut off, and fall to the ground 
(hi. 14). Or again : Seek ye Me, and ye shall live : 
but seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not 
to Beer-sheba : for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, 
and Beth-el shall come to nought (v. 4). Ironically 
he exhorts them : Come to Beth-el, and transgress ; to 
Gilgal, and multiply transgression; and bring your 
sacrifices every morning, and your tithes every three 
days; and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which 
is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings and publish 
them (iv. 4, 5). It may be doubtful whether the sin 
of Samaria means the calf of Beth-el or the Asherah 
which was still standing in Samaria (2 Kings xiii. 6) ; 
but the worshippers of the calves are certainly in- 
cluded in the prophet's threat, They that swear by the 
sin of Samaria, and say, As thy God, Dan, liveth; 
and, As the way of Beer-sheba liveth ; even they shall 
fall, and never rise up again (viii. 14). And the 
last vision (ix. 1 ff.) presents a graphic picture of the 
worshippers buried under the ruins of the Temple in 


which they are assembled for worship. " These pas- 
sages," says Professor Davidson, " appear to carry in 
them a formal repudiation of the calves. ... If the 
prophet's language be not a verbal protest against the 
calf worship, it is because it is a great deal more ; it 
is a protest which goes much deeper than the calves, 
and is directed to something behind them. The 
calves, and the whole ritual service as it was prac- 
tised, were but symptoms of that which gave offence 
to the prophets, which was the spirit of the worship, 
the mind of the worshippers, the conception of Deity 
which they had in worshipping, and to which they 
offered their worship. Jehovah distinguishes between 
this service and the worship of Him. Seek Me, and 
seek not to Beth-el." 1 
inraaindf- In the midst of all their moral depravity, and 


failures to recognise Jehovahs character, they still 
claimed to be His people, and imagined themselves to 
be entitled to His favour. Jehovah, the God of hosts, 
is with us, was their favourite watchword (v. 14). 
They desired the day of Jehovah (v. 18). It was in- 
conceivable that He should manifest Himself other- 
wise than as the champion of His own people and 
the destroyer of their enemies. It must have been 
a rude shock to the easy-going security of the Israel- 
ites to learn that just because they were Jehovah's 
people He intended to punish them. You only have 
I known of all the families of the earth : therefore 1 

1 Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. v, p. 175. 


will visit upon you all your iniquities (iii. 2). All 
that He had done for them in delivering them from 
the bondage of Egypt, and leading them through the 
wilderness, and destroying the gigantic Amorites 
before them, ought to have bound them to grateful 
service. At least, if they did not recognise the 
claim to gratitude, it would have been the part of 
prudence to fear the Almighty Creator of the universe 
(iv. 13 ; v. 8 ; ix. 6). 

Jehovah's recpuirenients are few and simple. Seek Jehovah's 

good and not evil. . . . Hate the evil, and love the good, mmts. 

and establish judgement in the gate (v. 14, 15). Let 

judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a 

perennial stream (v. 24). Eequirements few and 

simple, yet difficult, because they cut clean across 

the ingrained selfishness of the human heart, and 

demanded nothing less than a complete reversal of 

their present principles of action. 

Seek Jehovah ; seek good ; that ye may live, is the The 


burden of the prophet s message. He sets before judgement 
them life and death ; and if they will not choose the 
way of life, the punishment cannot be averted. Once 
and again at the intercession of the prophet Jehovah 
repents Him of the evil (vii. 1-6). But the end must 
come. Judgement cannot be deferred (vii. 7 ff. ; viii. 
1 ff.). The sinful kingdom must be destroyed from 
off the face of the earth. Jehovah's character must 
be vindicated in the sight of all the nations. The 
instrument of chastisement is at hand. Amos does 


100 THEOLOGY OF AMOS iectt. 

not name them, but no doubt he has the Assyrians 
in view. The Syrians had been a formidable enemy, 
but a still more formidable and irresistible power was 
arising in the distant north (v. 27 ; vi. 14). 
The restom- Yet co-ordinately with the prediction of judgement 
we meet with the promise of restoration. Though 
the sinful kingdom must be destroyed, the house of 
Jacob will not be utterly destroyed. When the house 
of Israel is sifted among all the nations, as corn ■ is 
sifted in a sieve, the least grain shall not fall upon 
the ground. Only the self-confident sinners, who 
deny the possibility of a judgement, will perish 
(ix. 8-10). Then the ancient glory of the Davidic 
kingdom will be restored ; a reunited, purified Israel 
will once more possess the remnant of Edom, and 
all the nations which Jehovah had claimed as His 
own. 1 Israel will be restored to its own land, and 
dwell there securely in the enjoyment of undisturbed 
prosperity. The curse of barrenness will be removed : 
the land will be enriched with the blessings of ex- 
uberant fertility (ix. 11-15). 


Theoiow of The dominant idea in the theology of Amos is the 


sovereignty of Jehovah in nature and in history. 

The Lord, or the Lord Jehovah, or the God of hosts, are 

his favourite titles for God ; 2 and whatever may 

1 With ix. 12 cp. Deut. xxviii. 10. 2 See Note B, p. 108. 


have been the origin of the title Jehovah of hosts, it 
can hardly be doubted that the Septuagint rendering 
Lord all -sovereign (/cvpio? TravroKpdrwp) rightly re- 
presents the sense in which the prophets employed it 
to designate Jehovah as the Euler of the hosts of 
heaven and earth. In three passages Amos breaks 
out into a sublime apostrophe of the sovereign 
Creator. When he bids Israel prepare to meet its 
God, he would startle them into repentance by bring- 
ing home to them the conviction of what He is Whose 
name is Jehovah, the God of Hosts. He it is Who 
formed the solid mountains and created the subtle 
wind, Who reveals to man His thoughts in His works 
and by His prophets, Who turns the light of dawn 
into darkness, and makes the high places of the earth 
as it were the footstool of His feet (iv. 13). 

When he bids Israel seek Jehovah if they would 
live and not die, he draws as it were two portraits, 
and hangs them up one over against the other. On 
the one side there are the men who turn judgement to 
wormwood, and cast righteousness down to the ground : 
on the other there is the maker of the Pleiades and 
Orion, Who turns the deepest gloom into morning, and 
makes dag as dark as night ; Who calls for the waters 
of the sea, and pours them over the face of the earth ; 
Jehovah is His name ; Who flashes destruction upon 
the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress 
(v. 7 ff). This is the God with whom these daring 
sinners have to do. 


Do they doubt His power to overtake them, 
though they should bury themselves in the lowest 
depths of Sheol, or scale the topmost heights of 
heaven ? He Who touches the land and it melts away, 
and all its inhabitants mourn, is none other than He 
JVho builds His chambers in the heaven, and founds 
His vault upon the earth, and calls for the waters of 
the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth 
(ix. 6). 

He is, as we have seen already, the God of his- 
tory, Who orders the migrations of the nations, Who 
claims the right and has the power to judge them 
for their breaches of the common law which He has 
written in their hearts. 

But in a special way He has revealed Himself to 
Israel. In one sense Israel is but as one of the 
nations whose destinies He has guided. Are ye not 
as the children of the Ethiopians unto Me, children 
of Israel? (ix. 7). But in another sense Israel is 
the only nation which He has known} chosen and 
acknowledged as peculiarly His own. He has sent 
them prophets, and the prophets are His servants, to 
whom He reveals His secret counsel (ii. 11 ; iii. 7). 

His moral character is shewn in His denunciation 
of Israel's conduct, and in those demands of goodness, 
judgement, and righteousness, of which we have 
already spoken. 

1 Cp. the use of the word in Gen. xviii. 19 of the call of 


The eschatology of Amos is of the simplest Amos' 


character. The picture of Israel's future which he 
draws in the concluding verses of the book is, like 
that of Joel, 1 a picture of purely temporal felicity. 
Sinners will be destroyed in the judgement which is 
impending ; while the sound grain will be preserved 
out of which a renewed people is to spring (ix. 9, 10). 
But he casts no light on the deeper problem, how sin 
is to be atoned for and eradicated. He looks appar- 
ently for this restoration to follow at no long interval 
upon the judgement which is to fall upon Israel from 
the Assyrians. 

Amos has no prediction of a personal Messiah. 
But it is noteworthy that he does connect the hope 
of the future with the house of David. This is to 
be restored to its pristine glory, and through its 
restoration blessing comes to the reunited nation 
which exercises a sovereignty over surrounding 
nations as of old. He is still the representative of a 
rudimentary stage of prophetic revelation, to be 
enlarged, developed, spiritualised by his successors ; 
to be fulfilled not indeed in the letter, but in the 


But though in some respects the teaching of Place of 

r i Amos in 

Amos is of a simple and rudimentary character, his the reiigiow 

A J history of 

1 To whose words he seems to allude, cp. Amos ix. 13 with Joel 
iii. 18. See above, pp. 63 if. 

104 PLACE OF AMOS lect 

book offers a complete refutation of the theory that 
his prophecy marks an entirely new departure in the 
religious history of Israel. He, in common with the 
other prophets of the eighth century, 1 is, as I have 
already observed (p. 26 ff.), a reformer and not a 
founder. If the people had no knowledge of the 
moral demands of Jehovah, how could they justly 
be blamed for disregarding them ? Amos refers to 
prophets who had preceded him, and betrays no sense 
of any discontinuity between their teaching and his 
own (ii. 11 ; iii. 7). With all their faults, men desire 
to hear the words of Jehovah. They are their 
spiritual food, and the spiritual ' famine ' which will 
ensue upon the withdrawal of prophetic teaching, 
which is threatened as part of Israel's punishment, 
will be recognised as a grievous evil (viii. 11 ff.). 

It is instructive to observe the knowledge which 
Amos himself shews, and which he presumes in his 
hearers. He implies a familiarity with the history 
of Jacob and Esau (i. 11). Modb shall die with 
tumult (ii. 2) may possibly be a reference to the 
phrase sons of tumult in Balaam's prophecy of the 
destruction of Moab (Num. xxiv. 17, E.V.). He 
condemns (ii. 8) the breach of the humane law 
concerning pledges, which is found in Exod. xxii. 26. 
He speaks of the forty years of wandering in the 
wilderness, and the gigantic stature of the Amorites 

1 I do not refer to the evidence of Obadiah and Joel, because 
their dates are disputed. 


(ii. 9, 10). He knows the fame of David as a 
musician (vi. 5). This simple countryman is ac- 
quainted with the history of his nation and under- 
stands its religious significance. He expects his 
hearers and readers to know it, for he refers to these 
things incidentally and cursorily, as to matters with 
which they would be familiar; and he refers to 
events outside his own nation. The fate of Calneh 
and Hamath, the origin of the Philistines and the 
Syrians, have their warning and their interest for him. 
The natural inference is that the class of yeomen, 
possibly even of peasants, to which Amos belonged, 
was by no means an uninstructed class. How far 
the ancient history of the nation had been already 
committed to writing, or how far it was still preserved 
by oral tradition, is a question which cannot be 
answered with certainty. But if, as there seems no 
reason to doubt, Amos committed his own prophecy 
to writing, it is at least probable that some historical 
records already existed in a written form. 

The law and the statutes of Jehovah are presumed 
to be known, for Judah is condemned for having 
forsaken them and followed false gods {their lies) 
like their fathers (ii. 4). 1 The existence of a ritual 
law is implied in the condemnation of the offering 
of leavened sacrifices on the altar (iv. 5) ; 2 and the 

1 It is wholly arbitrary to condemn this passage as a ' Deuter- 
onomic ' interpolation. 

2 Lit. burn a thank offering of leaven. Cakes of leavened bread 
were presented as part of the sacrifice of peace offerings (Lev. viL 


sanctity of the holy land in comparison with foreign 
countries is presupposed when Amaziah is con- 
demned, as part of his punishment, to die in a land 
that is unclean (vii. 17 ; cp. Hos. ix. 3). 

New moons and Sabbaths were observed by 
abstinence from business, even by those who had nc 
heart in the observance (viii. 5) ; feasts and solemn 
assemblies were frequented (v. 21 ; viii. 10) ; sacri- 
fices, burnt offerings, meal offerings, peace offerings, 
freewill offerings were offered (v. 22 ; iv. 5) ; tithes 
were paid (iv. 4). 
Permanent The Book of Amos teaches, with singular clear- 

lessons of 

tiiebook. ness and force, truths which can never become 
superfluous or obsolete. The truths that justice 
between man and man is one of the divine founda- 
tions of society ; that privilege implies responsibility, 
and that failure to recognise responsibility will surely 
bring punishment ; that nations, and by analogy, 
individuals, are bound to live up to that measure of 
light and knowledge which has been granted to them ; 
that the most elaborate worship is but an insult to 
God when offered by those who have no mind to 
conform their wills and conduct to His requirements ; 
— these are elementary but eternal truths. 

13), but no leaven was ever to be burnt (Lev. ii. 11). Such a 
ritual impropriety would seem to be of small moment. The 
allusion to it implies the existence of a ritual law, to which much 
importance was attached. 


Note A. 
Structure of the Book op Amos. 
The Book of Amos may be divided as follows : — 

(i) Chaps, i, ii. The Prologue. 

The title and preface 1 (i. 1, 2) are followed by denun- 
ciations of judgement against six neighbouring nations 
(i. 3— ii. 3) ; upon Judah (ii. 4, 5) ; and lastly, in more detail, 
upon Israel (ii. 6-16). Each begins, Thus saith Jehovah. 

(ii) Chaps, iii-vi. 

A series of addresses, three of which begin Hear ye this 
word (iii. 1 ; iv. 1 ; v. 1), and end with a threat introduced 
by Therefore (iii. 1 1 ; iv. 1 2 ; v. 1 1 , 1 6) ; and two begin with 
Woe (v. 18 ; vi. 1). In these the crimes and the impending 
punishment of Israel are set forth at length. 

(iii) Chaps, vii. 1-ix. 10. 

Further threatenings of judgement in the form of five 
visions. After the third follows the narrative of Amos' 
experience at Beth-el (vii. 10 ff.) ; and after the fourth a 
repeated rebuke of the sins of the people (viii. 4 ff.). 

(iv) Chap. ix. 11-15. The Epilogue. 

The promise of the restoration of the House of David, and 
the renewed happiness of Israel in their own land under 
Jehovah's protection. 

1 Comp. Joel iii. 16. 

108 NAMES OF GOD IN AMOS lect. iv 

Note B. 
Names of God in Amos. 

(1) Jehovah [the Lord] alone, commonly, as in other 

(2) The Lord Jehovah [Adonai Jehovah: A.V. the Lord 
God 1 ] is his favourite title, occurring twenty times. Ch. i. 8 ; 
iii. 7, 8, 11, 13 ; iv. 2, 5 ; v. 3 ; vi. 8 ; vii. 1, 2, 4 (twice), 
5, 6 ; viii. 1, 3, 9, 11 ; ix. 8. 

The Lord [Adonai] only, vii. 7, 8 ; ix. 1. 

(3) The following combinations should be noted : — 
Jehovah the God of hosts [A.V. the Lord, the God of hosts], 

iv. 13 ; v. 14, 15 ; vi. 8, 14 ; and more emphatically, 
Jehovah, whose name is the God of hosts, v. 27. 

The Lord, Jehovah of hosts, ix. 5. 

The Lord Jehovah, the God of hosts, iii. 13. 

Jehovah, the God of hosts, the Lord, v. 1 6. 

Note that Lord never occurs in Hosea, and God of hosts 
only once (xii. 5). 

1 Readers of the English will remember that, both in A.V. and 
in R.V., God and Lord printed in capitals represent the sacred 
name JHVH, which from early times was not pronounced by the 
Jews in reading the Scriptures. In place of that ineffable Name 
was read Adonai — Ijord, or when Adonai is coupled with it, 
Elohim = GoH. Thus "the Lord God" (Gen. ii. 4) = Jehovah 
Elohlm ; "Lord God" (Gen. xv. 2) = Adonai Jehovah ; "God the 
Lord" (Ps. lxviii. 20) = Jehovah Adonai. In A.V. Jehovah, stand- 
ing alone, is occasionally represented by God (Gen. vi. 5 ; 2 Sam, 
xii. 22). 



I desire lovingkindncss, and not sacrifice; and knowledge of God 
more than burnt offerings. — Hosea vi. 6. 


Hosea was a younger contemporary of Amos, and an Date oj 
older contemporary of Isaiah and Micah. Accord- BC - 7SS-7U 
ing to the title prefixed to his book, the word of 
Jehovah came to him in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, 
Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Icings of Judah, and in the days 
of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel. It seems 
to be tolerably certain that this is a composite title. 
The latter part of it probably belonged in the first in- 
stance only to the first division of the book (chaps, 
i-iii) ; while the earlier part was added, perhaps by 
the editor of the collection of the Minor Prophets, to 
indicate that Hosea prophesied in the same period 
as Isaiah and Micah. 1 It need not be strained to 
mean that Hosea's ministry extended over the whole 
period covered by the reigns of these four kings of 

1 Comp. Isa. i. 1 ; Mic. i. 1. 



(1) Chaps. 
i-iii in the 
reign qf 

(2) Chaps*. 
iv-xiv after 

Judah. In fact it seems hardly possible that it can 
have done so. Internal evidence proves that while 
the greater part of the book must be assigned to a 
time subsequent to the reign of Jeroboam II, no part 
of it can well be so late as the reign of Hezekiah or 
even of Ahaz. 

The book falls into two well-marked divisions. 
Chaps, i-iii are complete in themselves. They be- 
long evidently to the reign of Jeroboam. For they 
predict the downfall of the house of Jehu (i. 4), a 
prediction which was fulfilled when after a brief 
reign of six months Jeroboam's son and successor 
Zechariah lost his throne and his life by Shallum's 
conspiracy. 1 They were written in a time of pros- 
perity, which, however, it is predicted, would not last 
much longer. Corn and wine, silver and gold, were 
still abundant (ii. 8 ff.), but Israel was soon to be 
deprived of the blessings which it had misused, and 
the true Giver of which it had ignored. The reign 
of Jeroboam was, as we have seen, a time of such 
prosperity. But it speedily came to an end after 
his death. We can thus hardly be wrong in refer- 
ring the first three chapters of Hosea to the closing 
years of his reign, about 755-749 B.C. 

The second division (chaps, iv-xiv) evidently be- 

1 See 2 Kings xv. 10. The expression rendered before the people 
is a very strange one ; and we should probably adopt Gratz's brilliant 
conjecture, in Ibleam, which involves an extremely slight change in 
the letters of the text. Ibleam was in the plain of Jezreel (2 Kings 
is. 27). See Driver in Tlie Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. v, p. 259. 


longs to a later period. It contains clear indications 
of the state of anarchy and misrule into which the 
Northern Kingdom fell upon Jeroboam's death. 1 
But it is at the latest anterior to the fall of Samaria, 
which is predicted as still future (xiii. 16) ; and 
it must in all probability be placed considerably 
earlier than that event. It shews no trace of 
the circumstances which called forth the great 
prophecies of Isaiah vii. ff. There is no allusion to 
the coalition of Pekah and Eezin to dethrone Ahaz. 
The direct consequence of their action was that Ahaz 
appealed to Assyria for help, and Pul or Tiglath- 
Pileser III 2 responded to his appeal by ravaging 
and depopulating northern Palestine, Galilee, and 
Gilead. To this grave disaster Hosea makes no 
allusion. The punishment of Israel's sins is im- 
minent, but it is still future. Gilead is spoken of as 
being still a part of the Northern Kingdom (vi. 8 ; 
xii. 11 ; contrast Mic. vii. 14). Assyria is nowhere 
regarded as a present and actual enemy, but as a 
worthless and dangerous ally, to whose support a 
faction in the country was appealing (v. 13 ; vii. 11 ; 
viii. 9 ; xii. 1 ; xiv. 3). Now this was precisely the 
position of affairs in the reign of Menahem. He 

1 See e.g. vii. 7 ; viii. 3 f. ; x. 3, 15 ; xiii. 10 f. 

2 The identification of Pul with Tiglath-Pileser has been corro- 
borated by the discovery of the name Fulu in a list of Babylonian 
kings, while in the Babylonian Chronicle Tuklat-abal-isarra 
( = Tiglath-Pileser) is given as king for the same years. Pul 
appears to have been the Babylonian substitute for the name 
Tiglath-Pileser (Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions, E.T. i, p. xxxii). 


was a military adventurer, who waded through blood 
to the throne, upon which he could only maintain 
himself by purchasing the support of Tiglath-Pileser, 
and practically becoming a vassal of Assyria (2 
Kings xv. 14 ff., 19 ff.). But with the accession of 
Pekah the political situation was completely changed. 
We may therefore with some confidence conclude 
that Hosea's public ministry was closed, and in all 
probability his book written, before B.C. 734, when 
Pekah and Eezin invaded Judah. 1 


dream- We must now recall the circumstances under 

the time, wliich Hosea exercised his ministry. We have 

already had occasion to consider the characteristics 

of the reign of Jeroboam II in connexion with the 

prophecy of Amos (pp. 86 ff.). On the death of that 

powerful monarch the great kingdom which he had 

built up fell speedily into ruin. After six months' 

1 If Shalman who spoiled Betli-arbel (x. 14) could be identified 
with Shalmaneser the successor of Tiglath-Pileser, the book would 
be brought down to a date after B.C. 727. But the identification is 
improbable. Salamanu appears on the monuments as the name of 
a Moabite king ; there was an Arhcla on the east of Jordan, and it is 
far more likely that the incident referred to occurred in one of the 
savage wars between Moab and Gilead. See Schrader, Cuneiform 
Inscriptions, p. 440. Professor Sayce (Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 
i, p. 162 ff.) endeavours to shew that Hosea's prophecies belong in 
part to the very last years of the Northern Kingdom, immediately 
before the fall of Samaria, and conjectures that Jareb (v. 13 ; x. 6) 
may have been the natal name of Sargon ; but the arguments 
stated above appear to rae conclusive in favour of the earlier date. 


reign in Samaria his son and successor Zechariah was 
slain by Shallum, and the dynasty of Jehu came to 
an end. But the usurper could not keep the throne 
which he had seized. Menahem had apparently 
already established himself in the once important city 
of Tirzah, and marching thence against Samaria, took 
it and slew Shallum. A few brief sentences suggest 
the horrors of the civil war which followed, and the 
brutal vengeance which Menahem inflicted on those 
who had refused to take his side (2 Kings xv. 16). 
But he could not secure his throne without external 
aid. Tiglath - Pileser, the king of Assyria, invaded 
Israel. Menahem purchased his support with the 
sum of a thousand talents, which he raised by a 
tax upon the owners of property, and submitted to 
the indignity of holding his throne as the creature 
and vassal of the king of Assyria. He reigned 
for ten years, and left his throne to his son Pekah- 
iah. But after two years civil war broke out again. 
Pekah, one of his generals, with a band of Gileadites, 
murdered him in his palace, and seized the throne. 

At this point the political relations of the nations 
underwent a change. Pekah allied himself with 
Eezin the king of Syria to attack Ahaz, and set a 
creature of their own, the son of Tabeel, upon the 
throne of Judah. Ahaz appealed to Assyria for help, 
offering his submission as a vassal, and sending a large 
subsidy. Tiglath-Pileser invaded Syria, slew Eezin, 
took Damascus, and deported the inhabitants to Kir. 



But first he had attacked Israel, ravaged northern 
Palestine both east and west of the Jordan, and 
carried the inhabitants away to Assyria. Pekah, de- 
feated and discredited, lost his throne and life in the 
conspiracy of Hoshea, who in his turn ascended the 
throne as a vassal of Assyria. It is difficult to deter- 
mine the precise course of events, but it is clear that 
sooner or later Hoshea made overtures to So 1 the 
king of Egypt, and ceased to send his tribute to 
Assyria. Shalmaneser promptly dethroned and im- 
prisoned his rebellious vassal. Samaria fell after a 
three years' siege, begun by Shalmaneser, and com- 
pleted by his successor Sargon in B.C. 722. The 
kingdom of Israel was at an end. The Israelites 
were transported to the far east, to the districts 
between the Tigris and Euphrates, and even to the 
remoter Media, while their old home was peopled 
with colonists from Babylonian cities conquered by 
Assyria. The Israelites who were left in the land 
intermingled with their heathen neighbours. A nomi- 
nal worship of Jehovah was continued side by side 
with the worship of heathen deities. But the national 
existence of Israel was at an end. Henceforward all 
the hopes of the chosen people centred in Judah. 

Thus the ruin of Israel was precipitated by in- 
ternal feuds coinciding with the advance of external 

1 It is generally thought that the name So (2 Kings xvii. 4) 
should he read Seve, and that Seve may be identified with the 
powerful Ethiopian king of Egypt Shebek I or Sabaco. But the 
identification has recently been questioned. 


enemies. Four out of the six kings who succeeded 
Jeroboam died violent deaths. Hoshea ended his 
days as a captive. Menahem alone " slept with his 
fathers," and left his kingdom to his son. The throne 
was seized by a succession of military adventurers, 
who were not strong enough to maintain themselves 
on it without foreign aid. They did not hesitate to 
sacrifice the interests of their country to their own 
selfish schemes of aggrandisement. The independence 
of the nation once lost, its downfall was rapid and 


The pages of Hosea cast a lurid light upon the The history 

. illustrated 

condition of Israel during the ten or fifteen years by Hosea. 
which followed the death of Jeroboam. The evils 
which Amos condemned have become rapidly worse. 
In the first division of the prophecy (chaps, i-iii) 
the nation is described as still outwardly prosperous. 
But it has practically deserted Jehovah. It ascribes 
its blessings to the false gods which it worships. It 
is ripe for punishment, which will speedily fall upon 
it. It is pre-eminently the religious apostasy of the 
nation which is denounced in these chapters. 

But the second division of the book, which belongs 
to the later period of Hosea's ministry, presents a 
series of pictures of the social, moral, and religious 
condition of Israel during the ten or fifteen years 
after Jeroboam's death, not less graphic than those 


drawn by Anios, and far more appalling. From the 
highest to the lowest the nation is represented as 
being utterly corrupt. The king and the princes 
amuse themselves with the people's misdoings instead 
of restraining them. The princes are plunged in 
debauchery. The king is the intimate companion of 
'scorners,' who prided themselves on their cynical 
contempt for virtue and religion. What wonder if 
such a populace turns to destroy such kings ! (vii. 2 ft). 
What wonder if, with all these internal dissen- 
sions, Ephraim's strength is devoured by strangers, 
and he grows prematurely old ! (vii. 9). A degenerate 
priesthood rejoices in the sins of the people, because 
they augment their revenues (iv. 8), instead of rebuk- 
ing them, as they were in duty bound to do. Nay, 
the priest turns bandit on his own account (vi. 9). 
Virtue has perished out of the land. There is no 
truth, and no loving Jcindness, and no knowledge of God 
in the land. Every form of vice has taken its place. 
There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and 
killing, and stealing, and committing adultery. One 
act of violence follows close upon another. They 
break out, and blood toucheth blood (iv. 1, 2 ; cp. vi. 8 ; 
vii. 1 ; x. 4 ; xi. 12). Sin is universal (viii. 1). 

There is a nominal regard for Jehovah. My God, we 
Israel kncnv Thee, is the popular cry (viii. 2). Sacrifices 
in abundance are offered to Jehovah, but He will not 
accept such merely formal worship (v. 6; viii. 13); for 
in reality they have forgotten Him, and abandoned 


themselves to licentious and degrading superstitions 
(iv.6,10,12,13; vi.6,7; viii. 11-14; x. 1,8; xi.2;xiii. 
2). This forgetf ulness of Jehovah is the root-evil of all. 
When danger threatens they look to Assyria or Egypt 
for help instead of turning in repentance to Jehovah 
(v. 13 ; vii. 11 ; viii. 9). They will not tolerate 
rebuke (iv. 4), but persecute and despise the pro- 
phets which are sent to them (ix. 7, 8). For such 
a nation nothing remains but judgement sharp and 


Such were the conditions under which Hosea had Hoseaa 

native of 

to deliver his message. Like Amos he prophesied to the Northern 


the Northern Kingdom. He only casts side glances, 
sometimes of encouragement and approval, sometimes 
of warning and rebuke, at Judah. But while Amos 
was a stranger, sent upon a temporary mission only, 
all indications combine to shew that Hosea was a 
native of Israel, bound to the kingdom whose ruin he 
had to predict by the closest ties of sympathetic 
patriotism. He has been called the Jeremiah of the 
Northern Kingdom ; and the numerous allusions to 
his book in Jeremiah * make it evident, as we might 
expect, that it was a favourite study of that pro- 
phet. " In every sentence it appears that Hosea had 

1 Cp. Jer. iii. 22 with Hos. xiv. 1, 4 ; Jer. iv. 3 with x. 12; 
Jer. t. 30 ; xviii. 13 ; xxiii. 14 with vi. 10 ; Jer. vii. 9 with iv. 2 ; 
Jer. ix. 12 with xiv. 9 ; Jer. xiv. 10 with viii. 13 ; ix. 9 ; Jer. 
xxx. 9 with iii. 5 ; Jer. xxx. 22 with ii. 23. 


not merely visited the kingdom of Ephraim, as Amoa 
had done, but that he is acquainted with it from the 
depths of his heart, and follows all its doings, aims, 
and fortunes, with the profound feelings gendered of 
such a sympathy as is conceivable in the case of a 
native prophet only " * He shews, as we have seen, 
complete familiarity with the internal condition of 
the kingdom; with the depth and hopelessness of its 
social corruption ; with the crimes of its kings, its 
nobles, and its priests ; with its foreign relations, 
such as the various intrigues for alliance with Egypt 
or Assyria ; with the deep-seated religious apostasy 
which united a nomiual worship of Jehovah in a 
corrupt and idolatrous form with Baal worship and 
an utter disregard for morality. The picture is 
drawn with a force and feeling which attest an eye- 
witness ; and an eye-witness who does not merely 
view things from the outside as a stranger, but is 
keenly and bitterly alive to the sense that his own 
country is being dragged headlong down to ruin by 
the sins and crimes which he rebukes but cannot 
reform. So strong is the impression produced by the 
general drift of the prophecy, that it is scarcely 
necessary to point to the special allusions which 
stamp it as the work of an Ephraimite. The places 
which Hosea mentions are all in the Northern 
Kingdom. Lebanon supplies him with imagery (xiv. 
5-7) ; Mizpah in Gilead and Tabor in Galilee repre- 

1 Ewald, Prophets, vol. i, p. 211 (E.T.). 


sent the land from east to west (v. 1) ; Samaria is 
frequently mentioned (vii. 1 ; viii. 5, 6 ; x. 5, 7 ; xiii. 
16), Jerusalem not once; Gilead (vi. 8; xii. 11), 
Shecheni (vi. 9, R.V.), Gilgal (iv. 15; ix. 15; xii. 11), 
Beth-el, sometimes sarcastically called Beth-aven, 
for the house of God has been turned into the house of 
vanity or idol-worship (iv. 15 ; v. 8 ; x. 5, 8, 15), 
Jezreel (i. 5), Gibeah (v. 8; ix. 9; x. 9), Piamah 
(v. 8), are among the places referred to. The name 
Ephraim occurs no less than thirty-seven times. 

Distinctive features of language are less numerous 
than might have been expected ; but certain pecu- 
liarities of style and diction appear to belong to the 
northern dialect. Others possibly have been elimin- 
ated by scribes in the course of the transmission of 
the text. 

Hosea's personal history supplies the master-key noseas life 


to his teaching. Jehovah's loving faithfulness to 
Israel, and Israel's thankless unfaithfulness to Jeho- 
vah, are the ideas which permeate and give unity to 
the whole book. These ideas had been branded upon 
Hosea's inmost soul by his own domestic experience. 
With delicate touch and entire absence of self- 
consciousness, almost as if he reflected upon it from 
the outside, he tells the sad story, and reveals the 
secret of his life. When Jehovah began to speak to 
Hosea, He said to him, Go, take thee a whorish wife 


and whorish children; for the land goeth utterly a 
whoring from following Jehovah. So he went and 
took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim (i. 2, 3). She 
bore him children, to whom, in obedience to the 
divine command, he gave names which made them, 
like Isaiah's children, living witnesses to their father's 
message. Jezrcel signified that a day of vengeance 
was at hand for the house of Jehu in the valley of 
Jezreel, to avenge the wanton bloodshed of Jehu in 
Jezreel. Lo-ruhamah, or Unpitied, betokened that 
Israel's day of grace was drawing to a close, and that 
Jehovah would no longer shew mercy to the house 
of Israel, and pardon their transgressions. Lo-o.mrni, 
that is, Not -my -people, declared that Israel had for- 
feited its position as the people of Jehovah, and that 
He would no more be their God. 

But Gomer proved faithless to her marriage vow. 
Ensnared perhaps by the wild orgies of Baal and 
Ashtoreth, she deserted her husband. She fell at 
last into slavery. 1 But in this her lowest degradation 
her husband does not abandon her. By divine com- 

1 Ch. iii records the second act of the tragedy. The woman 
loving a paramour, and an adulteress (read the active participle 
with the LXX), can be no other than Gomer. If the relation of 
Jehovah to Israel is symbolised by Hosea's marriage with Gomer, 
and Israel's unfaithfulness is represented by her adultery, then 
Jehovah's unbroken love for Israel and determination to recover 
Israel in spite of its apostasy can only be symbolised by the 
prophet's recovery of Gomer. That she had fallen into slavery 
must be inferred from his purchasing her. The sum paid, partly 
in money and partly in kind, was about thirty shekels, the value 
of an ordinary slave (Exod. xxi. 32 ; Zech. xi. 12). 


mand he redeems her from bondage, and brings her 
home again. There he keeps her in a stern seclusion, 
depriving her of the liberty which she had so wantonly 
abused, and Dot yet restoring her to the full rights of 
a wife ; but watching over her, until her affection for 
him should revive. A touching picture, is it not, of 
the prophet watching with unabated love over the 
guilty wife of his youth ; waiting patiently, if per- 
ad venture tears of penitence might cleanse her sin- 
stained soul, and her heart again respond to his 
untiring love ? 

Such I believe to be the outline of Hosea's personal 
history. And so he learnt, in the bitterness of his own 
domestic trial, something of the unquenchable love 
of Jehovah for Israel, something of the cruel wrong 
of Israel's unfaithfulness towards Jehovah. 

But before we proceed to observe in detail how The 'moral 
this experience shaped all his teaching, it is necessary 
to face the 'moral difficulty' involved in the story. 
How, we ask, could God have given His servant 
such a command ? or, to put the question from the 
other side, How could Hosea have recognised the 
voice of God in the impulse which prompted him 
to marry a woman of unchaste life ? Must he not 
rather have thrust it from him as a snare and a 
temptation ? Such a course must inevitably expose 
a prophet to well-merited contempt, as though he 
of all men were condoning the immorality of his 
countrymen which it was his mission to condemn ? 


Thenarra- The difficulty has long been felt, and various 

tive not an . . 

aiieyon,. explanations of it nave been suggested. Some inter- 
preters have regarded the whole narrative as an 
allegory. Now while it is tolerably certain that the 
prophets — at any rate some of the later prophets — 
express their teaching in the form of narratives of 
transactions which it is not necessary to suppose 
actually took place, there is not the slightest hint 
that such is the case here. The whole narrative 
bears the stamp of reality ; and this impression of its 
reality cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the 
theory that the transactions related were presented 
to the prophet's mind in a vision, and impressed 
themselves upon his imagination as vividly as though 
they had actually taken place. 

There is not the slightest hint of this in the book 
itself. Only by a literal interpretation does the 
narrative of the first chapter receive its natural 
meaning ; and it is only by a literal interpretation 
that we obtain the connexion between Hosea's life 
and his teaching which is the true key to his 
writings. But in fact the allegorical theory does 
not really remove the moral difficulty. If the 
transaction was one which was repugnant to the 
moral sense, how could it be chosen as the subject 
of an allegory ? Moreover, if the prophet had a 
faithful wife, it seems incredible that he should 
have exposed her to the suspicion of infidelity, as he 
must have done by using an allegory which certainly 


does not bear its allegorical character upon the face 
of it. It may be added that the names are strongly 
in favour of the literal interpretation. Tor if the 
story of the marriage were an allegory, we should 
naturally expect the wife to bear a significant name. 
Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, Lo-ammi, tell their own story ; 
but Gomer bath Diblaim yields no obvious symbolical 
meaning. The natural inference is that it is the 
actual name of a woman which she bore before she 
became the prophet's wife, while the children's names 
were given to them with a purpose. 

If then the narrative is not an allegory but a 
record of facts, what light can be thrown upon its 
moral aspect ? Some have thought that Hosea wedded 
Gomer with full knowledge of her character, in the 
hope of winning her back to a virtuous life. Such 
an act, it is urged, would have nothing immoral in 
it. But again it must be said that there is no hint 
of such a purpose in the narrative, and that it does 
not correspond to the requirements of the symbolism. 

The true view, which at once relieves the moral 
difficulty, gives the natural explanation to the nar- 
rative, and supplies the key to Hosea's teaching in 
the experience of his life, is that while we have in 
these chapters a record of actual facts, Gomer was 
as yet unstained when Hosea took her to be his wife. 
She is called a wife or woman of whoredom (ch. i. 2), 
not because she was already such, but because she 
proved to be such in her wedded life. The hideous 


tendencies to evil were latent in her heart. The 
prophet's love did not avail to restrain them. It 
awoke no permanent response of love in her heart. 
She abandoned him for the wild orgies of the licen- 
tious worship of Baal and Ashtoreth. 

Then, as he sat in his homeless home, and pondered 

over this 

sorrow of all sorrows, death of deaths, 
The springs of blessing poisoned at their source, 

as he "watched the ghastly ruins of his life," he saw 
that even this cruel calamity was not blind chance 
but the will of God. 

Through all the mystery of my years 
There runs a purpose which forbids the wail 
Of passionate despair. I have not lived 
At random, as a soul whom God forsakes ; 
But evermore His Spirit led me on, 
Prompted each purpose, taught my lips to speak, 
Stirred up within me that deep love, and now 
Reveals the inner secret. 1 

Then he recognised that it was by God's command 

that he had chosen the wife who had proved so 

faithless. All had been ordered to teach him the 

lesson which he was to teach Israel, as he could 

have learnt it by no other means. The beginning oj 

Jehovah's speaking to him was the impulse to marry 

1 Plumptre's "Gomer," in Lazarus, and other Poems. In this 
singularly beautiful and suggestive poem the view is adopted that 
Hosea married Gomer, knowing her character, in the hope of 
reforming her. But the lines quoted, and much more in the poem, 
admirably illustrate the view which is adopted here. 


Gomer. He did not know it at the time. It was 
only by the course of events that the significance of 
that act was revealed to him, and he learnt that that 
was the first step in his prophetic career : but he 
records it for us in the light in which he was led to 
see it in after-days, that we may understand and 
sympathise with him in his painful discipline. God's 
instruments not seldom act by His direction without 
conscious knowledge that they are being specially 
guided by Him, and do not recognise till afterwards 
that the impulse which moved them was a divine 
impulse. And it is hardly necessary to remark that 
God 'spoke' to His prophets through events and 

We ask indeed why it was that God laid this 
heavy burden upon His servant, and trained him by 
such a fearful discipline. Is it not a law of this 
fallen world, that " knowledge through suffering 
entereth," that self-surrender is the path of service, 
that redemption is only wrought out through sacri- 
fice ? But this is a very different matter from a 
command which would have outraged Hosea's moral 
sense, and exposed him to the scorn of his fellow- 


It was a stern education, but at least we can see how The appiica 


it fitted the prophet for his work, and taught him to 
understand the relation between Jehovah and Israel. 


Jehovah had chosen Israel to be His own people, 
He had brought them out of Egypt. He had led them 
to the home which He had prepared for them. He 
had shewn the tenderest love for them, and claimed 
from them the return of a pure and undivided 
affection. The bond between them was as close and 
tender as the bond of wedlock. 

But Israel had been faithless to Jehovah. The 
land, so runs the burden of Hosea's message, goeth 
utterly a whoring from following Jehovah (i. 2). She 
had sought other lovers in false gods, especially the 
various forms under which Baal was worshipped. 
To them she ascribed the prosperity and the blessings 
she enjoyed. She said, I will go after my lovers, that 
give me my bread and my water, my wool and my 
fax, mine oil and my drink. . . . For she did not 
know that it was I who gave her the corn, and the 
wine, and the oil, and multiplied unto her silver and 
gold, which they made into an image of Baal (ii. 5, 8). 
Therefore Jehovah had determined to punish Israel. 
He would deprive her of her prosperity, and prove 
to her that it did not come from the Baals that she 
worshipped. He would carry her into exile, into a 
second Egyptian bondage, and there in hard service 
she would learn the measure of her folly and her 
guilt. There she would be deprived of her legiti- 
mate rights, and secluded from her old temptations. 1 

1 Observe the parallel between the position of Gomer (iii. 3) and 
that of Israel in exile (iii. 4). 


The children of Israel shall abide many days without 
king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and 
without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim (iii. 4). 
But the separation would not last for ever. Behold, 
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and 
speak to her heart . . . and she shall make answer there, 
as in the days of her youth, responding to Jehovah's 
call with trembling confidence (ii. 14 f. ; cp. iii. 5). 

The doom expressed by the names of Jezreel and 
Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi will be reversed. Jezreel 
will be no more the omen of calamitous defeat, but 
the pledge of Israel's triumph, the scene of the victory 
of the united forces of Israel and Judah over their 
enemies 1 (i. 11). But the plain of Esdraelon was not 
only the battle-field, but the corn-field of Palestine ; 
and the name of Jezreel further suggests the renewed 
fertility of the land in the future time of peace and 
plenty (ii. 22), while its meaning, God soweth, points to 
the 'sowing' of Israel in its own land once more, to 
grow and multiply and bear fruit abundantly (ii. 23). 
Lo-ruhamah, the Unpitied, becomes Ruhamah, the 
Pitied. Lo-ammi, ISTot-my-people, becomes once more 
Ammi, My people (ii. 23). 

Israel and Judah will be reunited under a true 
king of David's line (i. 11 ; iii. 5). Jehovah will 
proclaim a truce for His people with man and 

1 In ch. i. 11 the day of Jezreel must mean the day of battle in 
the plain of Jezreel ; and the obscure words shall go up from the 
land are best understood to mean shall go up thither to battle from 
all parts of the land. 


beast (ii. 18). He will multiply and prosper them 
in the land. The true ideal of the marriage 
covenant will be realised. Israel will reflect 
Jehovah's attributes in a perfect and unending 
fellowship of knowledge and of love. / will betroth 
thee unto Me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto 
Me in righteousness and in judgement, and in loving- 
kindness and in mercies. I will even betroth thee 
unto Me in faithfulness, and thou, shalt know Jehovah 
(ii. 19, 20). 

Such is briefly the substance of the first division 
of Hosea's book ; and we feel in almost every line 
how his own sad lot had burnt into his inmost soul 
a sense of the heinousness of Israel's infidelity 
towards Jehovah. We feel how he saw that his own 
unquenchable love for the guilty Gomer, and his 
eager longing to win back her love, were but a faint 
type of the mighty love of Jehovah for Israel, and 
of His unquenchable desire to win back Israel to 
her allegiance to Him ; and with Jehovah desire is 
purpose, and purpose means accomplishment, be it 
never so long delayed by human folly and obstinacy. 


Teaching of In the second division of the book (chaps, iv-xiv) 

chaps, iv- . ii • i 

xiv. there is no direct allusion to the circumstances of 

the prophet's life. But the same fundamental 
thoughts of the love of Jehovah for Israel, and the 


unfaithfulness of Israel towards Jehovah, form the 
warp and woof of the whole series of discourses. 
The sins of the people in all ranks of life are exposed 
and censured. They are all traced to their source in 
the spirit of infidelity towards Jehovah. Warning 
is given again and again of the inevitable chastise- 
ment which such conduct must bring upon them ; 
yet in spite of all offences, Jehovah is ready to 
pardon, and one day Israel will return and repent 
and be restored. 

Impassioned feeling, not logical arrangement, is 
the characteristic of the discourses collected in this 
part of the book. Any attempt to give a systematic 
account of Hosea's teaching is liable to give 
exaggerated prominence to some parts at the expense 
of others. But the following may be set down as 
some of the chief forms in which the fundamental 
idea of the book finds expression. 

A covenant exists between Jehovah and Israel. The 
Jehovah is Israel's God. Israel is Jehovah's people. 
But Israel has broken the covenant. They like 
Adam 1 have transgressed the covenant : there have 
they dealt treacherously against Me (vi. 7). . . . A 
trumpet to thy mouth ! As an eagle against Jehovah's 

1 The rendering is uncertain. It may be, Like men they have 
transgressed, or, They are like men who have transgressed, etc. 
But like Adam gives the most point. Though no actual covenant 
is said to have been made with Adam, the command given to 
him with penalties for the breach of it was virtually a covenant. 
Cp. Job xxxi. 33. 



house doth he come ! because they have transgressed 
My covenant, and rebelled against My law (viii. 1). 

The closeness and tenderness of this covenant- 
relation between Jehovah and Israel are expressed, 
as before, by the figure of marriage. But another 
figure is employed to bring into relief other aspects 
of Jehovah's protecting care and Israel's duty of 
obedience. Israel is Jehovah's son. When Israel 
was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of 
Egypt (xi. 1). The words recall the words in which 
God's claim upon the nation at the Exodus is expressed 
to Pharaoh : Israel is My son, My firstborn. . . . Let 
My son go, that he may serve Me (Exod. iv. 22 f.). 
Other Semitic nations regarded their gods as the 
fathers of their people. They supposed themselves 
to be actually descended from their gods. But the 
relation of Jehovah to Israel is not a physical 
but a moral relation, a fatherhood of adoption, 
grounded in His free choice of the people to be 
His own. 
its origin. This covenant-relation dated from the Exodus. It 
was no new thing. The nation was born when it 
was brought out of Egypt. It was a delight to 
Jehovah. He loved it. I found Israel, He says, like 
grapes in the wilderness ; I saw your fathers as the 
first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first season (ix. 10). 
Since that time He had been Israel's God. / am 
Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt ; and thou 
shalt know no god but Me, and beside Me there is no 


saviour (xiii. 4 ; cp. xii. 9). He had been continually 
training His child by loving discipline. /, even 
I, taught Ephraim to walk; I took them on My 
arms; hut they knew not that I healed them (xi. 3). 
He had taught them by the ministry of the prophets 
(xii. 10). But from the lirst they had sinned, and 
chosen other gods. They came to Baal-peor, and 
devoted themselves unto the Shame, and became an 
abomination like the thing they loved (ix. 10). 

The covenant with the nation dated from the 
Exodus ; but Hosea reminds them how, even in 
earlier days, Jehovah had revealed Himself to their 
eponymous ancestor Jacob, and preserved him 
through the various vicissitudes of his life (xii. 3 ff., 
12 ff.). It is important to observe the idea of 
national personality which is involved. Israel is 
treated as an individual, as possessing a solidarity 
and continuity of life, as responsible for its actions. 
Jehovah's covenant is with 1 the nation, not, primarily, 
with the individuals of the nation. It is in the later 
prophets that the doctrine of personal responsibility 
begins to appear, which is fully developed in the 
New Testament. But the older truth still retains 
an important meaning. 

What were the conditions of this covenant? It its con 


implied all the duty and love and obedience which 
are involved in the relation of wife to husband, and 
son to father. It is true that the ancient conception 
of these relations differed not a little from the modern 


one. The ideas of ownership and authority entered 
into them in a way which is strange to us. But 
hoth relations, as they appear in Hosea, involve the 
tenderest love and the closest affection. 

The obligations of the covenant were set forth in 
a Torah, a Law, a body of instruction or a revelation. 
It was the duty of the priests to teach it ; but they 
had neglected their duty (iv. 6). Israel had re- 
belled against Jehovah's law. They counted it as a 
strange thing (viii. 1, 12). 

What do we gather from Hosea were Jehovah's 
requirements as embodied in His law ? Truth, 
lovingkindness, knowledge of God ; these are the essen- 
tials which stand in the forefront. It is because 
these are wanting that Jehovah has a controversy 
with the inhabitants of the land (iv. 1). Loving- 
kindness and not sacrifice is what He desires, and 
knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (vi. 6). 
Justice and lovingkindness are to be the rule and 
aim of all their actions (x. 12). Let them return to 
God, keep lovingkindness and judgement, and wait 
upon their God continually (xii. 6). Sacrifice will 
not avail to propitiate Jehovah while it is offered by 
men whose hearts are estranged from Him, and who 
habitually neglect the essential part of His com- 
mandments (v. 6). 
Israels sins But Israel's conduct presents a glaring contrast 
to the high ideal of loving duty to their God and to 
one another which is thus set before them. The 


root-sin, from which all others spring, is unfaith- 
fulness to Jehovah. Israel is a harlot and an 
adulteress. She has broken the marriage vow by re- 
ligious apostasy. The false gods for which she has 
deserted Jehovah are her lovers. The Phoenician 
nature-worship was essentially immoral, and it is 
not always easy to decide whether Hosea is speaking 
literally or figuratively. Probably he regarded the 
abominations connected with the worship of Baal 
and Ashtoreth as the outward symbol of the spiritual 
sin, and did not care to distinguish sharply. 1 

Israel's political apostasy was also a breach of her 
marriage vow. Jehovah was her natural protector. 
To seek alliance with Egypt or Assyria was a deser- 
tion of Him. It implied distrust of His ability or 
His willingness to help. Coquetting with foreign 
nations was not allowable for a people which was 
to be separate from all others (vii. 13 ; viii. 9). 

Their idolatry was a further offence. In the calves 
at Beth-el and Dan they professed to worship Je- 
hovah. But Hosea scorns the notion of a manu- 
factured god. He hath cast off thy calf, Samaria. 
. . . From Israel is even this ; a workman made it, and 
it is no god : yea, the calf of Samaria shall be shattered 
in pieces (viii. 6). Contemptuously he calls Beth-el 
Beth-aven. For him it is no longer the house of God 
but the house of vanity} 

1 See iv. 12 ff., 17 f. ; v. 3 ff. ; ix. 1 ; xiii. 1 ff. 

2 Cp. viii. 4 f. ; x. 1, 5, 15 ; xiii. 2 ; xiv. 3. 


The separation of the Northern Kingdom from 
Judah was another sin. That separation was in one 
aspect a punishment to Judah. We cannot help 
some feeling of sympathy with the revolt against a 
burdensome despotism. The prophet Ahijah, when 
he told Jeroboam what was in his mind, did not con- 
demn his enterprise. He told him the conditions 
upon which a blessing might rest upon it. But 
from the first Jeroboam had set those conditions 
at defiance. In the event the separation had borne 
evil fruit, and Hosea condemns it as wrong in prin- 
ciple. The unity of the nation should have corre- 
sponded to the unity of Jehovah. His wife should 
have been one. Moreover, from the first, their self- 
chosen kings had led them astray. Idolatry had 
been the direct result of the separation. And so 
Hosea condemns it, and points forward to the reunion 
of Israel under the true king of David's line in the 
golden age of restoration. 1 

The moral corruption of the nation is universal. 
From the highest to the lowest, all are corrupt. 
How intimately immorahty was connected with false 
worship we have already seen. It sprang from the 
want of knowledge of God. It culminated in the 
absence of lovingkindness, that cardinal virtue in 
which the love of Jehovah for Israel should have 
been reflected in man's relation to his fellow-man. 
The punish- For these sins judgement is close at hand. Samaria 


1 See viii. 4 ; xiii. 9 ff. : i. 11 : iii. 4, 5. 


must bear the punishment of her guilt. The king- 
dom of Ephraim must be destroyed. But even while 
He pronounces sentence, Jehovah's compassion is 
moved. He yearns over the guilty nation with the 
tenderest affection. How shall I give thee up, 
Ephraim ? how surrender thee, Israel 1 how shall I 
make thee as Admah ? how set thee as Zeboim ? Mine 
heart is turned within Me, My compassions are kindled 
together (xi. 8). But the judgement is inevitable, and 
death and Sheol are summoned to do their worst. 
From the power of Sheol should I deliver them ? from 
death should I redeem them ? Where are thy plagues, 
death ? Where is thy destruction, Sheol ? Repentance 
shall be hid from Mine eyes (xiii. 14). 1 

But Jehovah's love for His people is unquench- nerestora 


able. The first division of the prophecy, as we have 
seen, points to a restoration beyond the judgement. 
Here the same thoughts recur. If the nation must 
die, it will rise again. / will go, says Jehovah, and 
return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, 
and seek My face. In their affliction they will seek Me 
earnestly, saying, Come and let us return unto Jehovah : 
for he hath torn, and He ivill heal us ; hath smitten, 
and will bind us up. After two days will He revive us : 
on the third day will He raise us up, and we shall live 

1 The last clause of this verse shews that the preceding clause 
must speak of judgement not of deliverance, and must therefore be 
taken interrogatively. This interpretation is confirmed by the 
preceding and following verses, which speak of the judgement as 
now inevitable. 


in His sight. And let us know, press onto know, Jehovah : 
His going forth is sure as the morning : and He shall 
come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth 
the earth (v. 15-vi. 3). 

For a while Jehovah must be like a lion, tearing 
and devouring His prey : yet one day His roar will be 
the signal, terrible yet gracious, for Israel's return from 
the lands of their banishment. He shall roar, and 
the children shall come trembling from the west. 1 They 
shall come trembling as a bird out of Egypt, and as a 
dove out of the land of Assyria : and I will make them 
to dwell in their own houses, saith Jehovah (xi. 10, 11). 

But the most touching and beautiful picture of 
the restoration is in the dialogue between the 
penitent people and Jehovah 2 with which the book 
closes. They approach Him with a prayer for 
pardon, confessing their sin, and promising no more 
to turn for help to worldly powers or material forces, 
no more to worship the work of their hands. Very 
gracious is the answer : / will heal their backsliding, 
I will love them freely ; for Mine anger is turned axoay 
from him (xiv. 4). 

1 I.e. from the islands and eoasts of the Mediterranean. Cp. 
Isa. xi. 11 ; Joel iii. 6. 

2 vv. 2, 3 of ch. xiv are obviously the people's confession, and 
w. 4-7 Jehovah's answer ; and the dialogue is continued in v. 8 
thus: " Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with 
idols?" Jehovah answers, "I, even I, have answered, and will 
regard him." Ephraim responds, "I am like a green fir-tree": 
Jehovah reminds him of the source of his prosperity : " From Me 
is thy fruit found." 


There is here no reference to the reunion of Israel 
with Judah, or to the Davidic king ; but it does not 
follow that those features in the earlier picture of 
the restoration are not Hosea's work, or have been 
forgotten. Completeness is not to be expected 
everywhere. The dominant idea of this passage is 
Ephraim's repentance and restoration to the favour 
of Jehovah. It is natural that Hosea should dwell 
in detail upon the destiny of his own people, and 
especially upon that returning to Jehovah which he 
knows must be the condition of restoration and 
blessing. But silence as to the future reunion of 
Israel and Judah and the leadership of the house of 
David does not mean that these hopes are ignored. 
There is nothing in this picture which is inconsistent 
with that drawn in the first division of the book. 
They are mutually complementary, not contra- 

Hosea's message is limited to the chosen people. Rosea siiem 

about the 

In the main, indeed, it is, as we have seen, limited nations. 
to that part of it with which he was himself con- 
nected. He is silent about the destiny of the 
nations. He has no single word to say either of 
their judgement or of their redemption. Amos had 
recently spoken of Jehovah as the sovereign of the 
world, ruling and judging the nations as well as 
His own people. The restored and reunited Israel 

138 THE CONTRAST i.ect. 

was to possess the nations. Hosea's contemporaries 
Micah and Isaiah — if not some earlier prophet to 
whom they were both indebted — spoke of Zion as 
the centre of the worship of the nations, from which 
Jehovah's law was to go forth to the world. But it 
would be precarious to infer that Hosea neither knew 
nor cared about the destiny of the nations. It is with 
Israel that he has to do. His intense love for his 
people leads him to concentrate his attention upon 
Deeper But he gains in depth what he loses in breadth. 

character ° r 

of Hosea's if the teaching of Amos is wider, that of Hosea is 

teaching. ° ' 

more profound. Not that the one is to be regarded 
as the rival of the other : each has his proper place 
in the economy of revelation. But we cannot fail to 
note that Hosea goes deeper, and deals not with 
action only but with the springs and motives of 
action. The love of God for His people is a thought 
which does not appear in Amos. It is prominent in 
Hosea (iii. 1 ; xi. 1,4; xiv. 4). The term loving- 
kindness (Heb. hcsed) is not found in Amos. It is a 
characteristic word in Hosea, who uses it to express 
the natural attitude of Jehovah to His people, and 
man's natural attitude to his fellow-man, as the 
reflection of that love (ii. 19 ; iv. 1 ; vi. 4, 6 ; x. 12 ; 
xii. 6). Characteristic too of Hosea as compared 
with Amos is the stress which he lays upon Israel's 
repentance as the condition of its restoration. Amos 
sees the nation purified by judgement. Hosea equally 


foresees that the sinners must be destroyed ; but 
further, he puts into the mouth of the nation con- 
fessions and prayers which point to the radical change 
needed (v. 15 ; vi. 1 ff. ; xiv. 1 ff.). While like Amos 
he describes the future as a time of restored prosperity 
and fertility, it is not this which is the supreme goal 
of his aspirations, but the perfect fellowship of life 
and love between God and His people, in which His 
purpose for them will be completely realised. 

Once more Hosea takes a step in advance of Amos First refer 

ence to the 

in his prophecy of the future king. Amos had spoken Messianic 
of the reunion of Israel in connexion with the house 
of David. Hosea predicts that the children of Israel 
shall return and seek Jehovah their God and David 
their king (iii. 5). It is the first hint of that ideal 
ruler whose coming we are about to find predicted in 
Micah and Isaiah. For David must mean not merely 
a prince of David's line, but a second David; one 
who corresponds to David as the man after God's own 
heart, and who, as is plain from the position which 
he occupies, is to be Jehovah's true representative. 


How have Hosea's prophecies been fulfilled ? Fulfilment 
Does it seem that they reach far beyond any fulfil- 
ment to which we can point, and have failed of 
accomplishment ? It must be remembered that all 
prophecy is conditional. It expresses God's purpose, 

140 STRUCTURE OF lect. 

which is so mysteriously conditioned and limited by 
man's folly and obstinacy. Yet in spirit, if not in 
the letter, they have been and are being fulfilled. 
Israel went into exile. The nation died. But it 
was recalled to life. Israel of the Eeturn was always 
held to represent the whole and not a part of the 
nation. After it returned from Babylon it never 
again forsook Jehovah for other gods. 

The second David has appeared in Christ ; and 
the promised blessings have been granted through 
Him in a way utterly transcending all that Hosea 
could have anticipated. The love of Jehovah has 
been manifested by His unspeakable gift to humanity. 
The ideal of sonship has been exhibited in Christ, 
who has fulfilled Israel's calling. 1 Jehovah's relation 
to Israel is continued for us in Christ's relation to 
His Church. But we can see too how Israel's blind- 
ness and obstinacy have hindered the complete 
fulfilment of the prophecy ; and we still wait for 
the time, when, in the words of St. Paul, all Israel 
shall be saved. 

Jehovah's mighty and inextinguishable love for 
Israel, which will not rest satisfied until it has 
brought all Israel into harmony with itself : that is 
the master -thought of Hosea's message. As we 
expand it in the light of the Incarnation, we dare 

1 The quotation of ch. xi. 1 in Matt. ii. 15 implies that Israel 
was a type of Christ. Israel's resurrection (vi. 2) is a type of 
Christ's resurrection. 


to think of a love which embraces all mankind, an 
almighty love which will not be content until all 
things are subject unto it, that God may be all in all. 

Note A. 

Analysis op the Book of Hosea. 

Part I. — Chaps, i-iii. 

The prophet's domestic history, and the message of doom 
expressed by the names of his children (i. 1-9). Yet even 
this doom will be reversed (i. 10 - ii. I). 1 Reverting 
abruptly from the future to the present, Hosea describes 
the sin of Israel and the certainty of judgement (ii. 2-13), 
and concludes with the promise of restoration (ii. 14-23). 
The prophet's treatment of his guilty wife is a parable of 
the means which Jehovah will adopt for the restoration of 
Israel by the discipline of punishment (iii). 

Part II. — Chaps, iv-xiv. 

Fresh beginnings may be noted at iv. 1 ; v. 1 ; viii. 1 ; 
ix. 1 ; xi. 12 (Heb. xii. 1), but no definite plan of arrangement 
can be traced. The section as a whole must be taken to 
represent Hosea's teaching after Jeroboam's death. It is 

1 Abrupt as is the transition from v. 9 to v. 10, and again from 
ii. 1 to ii. 2, I cannot think that the transposition of i. 10— ii. 1 
to the end of ch. ii, which is proposed by Cheyne and others, can 
be right. These verses would form a very awkward conclusion to 
that chapter. Rather, as it seems to me, the thought of deliver- 
ance succeeds that of judgement as it does in ch. ii and again in 
ch. iii, so that each of the three subdivisions into which chaps, 
i-iii fall contains the contrast of the two ideas which form the 
groundwork of prophecy, and ends with the promise of restoration. 

142 THE BOOK OF HOSEA lect. v 

possible that Hosea himself committed to writing prophecies 
orally delivered on different occasions. But no precise 
division of subjects is to be looked for in a prophet like 
Hosea, burning with indignation at the sights he saw, yet 
yearning with intense love over the guilty nation. 

The following subdivisions may however be a help to 
study : — 

(1) Chaps, iv-viii. Israel's guilt. The accusation. 

The corruption of the people due to their ignorance 
which is the fault of the priests (iv). Detailed account of 
the way in which this corruption penetrates all public life, 
and infects the State from its leaders downwards (v-vii). 
Israel's sins of covenant-breaking ; idolatry ; political apos- 
tasy ; neglect of the law (viii). 

(2) Chaps, ix-xi. 1 1 . Israel's doom. 

The necessity and certainty of Israel's punishment further 
demonstrated. In this section the impending catastrophe 
comes more clearly into view. 

(3) Chaps, xi. 12-xiv. Retrospect and prospect. 

The past history of the nation shews the ingratitude of 
their faithlessness (xii, xiii) ; but when punishment has 
done its work, the penitent nation will be restored (xiv). 



In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a 
throne, high and lifted up, and His skirts filled the temple. Above 
Him were standing seraphim : each one had six wings ; with twain 
he doth cover his face, and with twain he doth cover his feet, and 
with twain he doth fly. And one kept crying unto another, and say- 
ing, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts : the whole earth is full 
of His glory. — Isaiah vi. 1-3. 

It was a crisis in the history of Israel that The crisis 
needed an exceptional messenger. The last half of 
the eighth century was to witness the fall of the 
Northern Kingdom. It was hopelessly corrupt. 
Amos and Hosea had pronounced its doom. The 
judgement was inevitable. Its ministers were close 
at hand. Would Jerusalem share the fate of 
Samaria ? How could it escape in the impend- 
ing conflict between Assyria and Egypt for the 
supremacy of Western Asia ? Lying as it did 
close to the route which the hostile armies must 
traverse, its existence was at stake. So human 


reason would have calculated. But Jehovah's pur- 
pose was to preserve His own city ; and as the in- 
terpreter of that purpose He raised up the prophet 
The The messenger was worthy of the occasion. " Of 


the other prophets," writes Ewald, 1 "all the more 
celebrated ones were distinguished by some special 
excellence and peculiar power, whether of speech 
or of deed ; in Isaiah all the powers and all the 
beauties of prophetic speech and deed combine to 
form a symmetrical whole ; he is distinguished less 
by any special excellence than by the symmetry 
and the perfection of all his powers. . . . There are 
rarely combined in the same mind the profoundest 
prophetic emotion and purest feeling, the most 
unwearied, successful, and consistent activity amid 
all the confusions and changes of life, and lastly, 
true poetic ease and beauty of style, combined with 
force and irresistible power ; yet this triad of 
powers we find realised in Isaiah as in no other 
prophet." He is indeed the king among the 
prophets. During his long ministry of forty years, 
through evil report and good report, unflinchingly 
and consistently he delivered Jehovah's message to a 
people blind to its high calling, deaf to the divine 
word, destitute of energising faith and elevating 
hope. When they were secure in the conceit of 
their own arrogant self-confidence, he warned them 
* Prophets, vol. ii, p. 1 (E.T.). 


of the impending judgement. When they trembled 
in pusillanimous despair at approaching calamity, he 
encouraged them with the assurance of divine pro- 
tection. With unshaken confidence he proclaimed 
the absolute sovereignty of Jehovah over the nations 
of the world, and maintained " the eternal hope of 
the divine kingdom upon earth." 

Watch him at his work. He was no recluse, msmodu 

0/ work. 

living apart from the busy ways of men, and emerg- 
ing from his retirement only to disappear again 
when his message had been delivered. His home 
was in the capital. There, in the centre of the 
national life, he exercised his ministry. Almost all 
his discourses are addressed to the people, or- to 
particular classes, or to individuals in Jerusalem. 
His family around him formed part of his message. 
His own name, Jehovah's deliverance, given him 
originally as an expression of trust or of gratitude 
(cp. Ps. xxvii. 1), became an omen of his work. His 
wife was the prophetess. Two at least of his children, 
like Hosea's, bore significant names. Shear -ydshub, 
' a remnant shall return ' (vii. 3), bore witness to the 
certainty of the truth that Judah must be purified by 
judgement till but a remnant of it was left, yet that 
it could not finally prove apostate from Jehovah. 1 

1 The name is explained in x. 20-22. The words, " a remnant 
shall return" {Shear ydshub), "a remnant of Jacob, unto the 
mighty God," make it clear that a return to allegiance to Jehovah, 
not a return from exile, is meant. It should be noticed that as 
Shear-yashub was old enough to accompany his father in or about 


Maker - shalal - hash - baz, ' Hasten - booty - speed - spoil ' 
(viii. 1 ff.), foretokened the speedy downfall of Samaria 
and Damascus. Thus in the darkest days of trial he 
could say, Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah 
hath given me are for signs and for wonders in 
Israel from Jehovah of hosts, which dwelleth in mount 
Zion (viii. 18). 

He gathered round him a band of faithful dis- 
ciples, who treasured up his utterances in their 
memories, and guarded the prophecies which he had 
committed to writing — a sealed book to the in- 
fatuated multitude (viii. 16; xxix. 11). 

At one time we see him taking a great tablet and 
writing on it in bold legible characters some enig- 
matic watchword, which he placards in public in 
order to arrest the attention of the most casual 
passer-by (viii. 1 ; xxx. 7 ff.). 1 At another time we 
see him traversing the streets of Jerusalem stripped 
and barefoot, a living picture of the captives of 
Egypt and Ethiopia who were to be led away by the 
victorious Sargon (x'x. 2). 

He evidently occupied a unique position of 
authority in Jerusalem. He was the fearless censor 

the year 735, the fundamental idea of Isaiah's teaching expressed 
in the name must have been present to his mind from the very 
commencement of his public ministry, if not before. See 
Davidson, Expositor, 4th Ser. vol. vii, p. 243. 

1 In this case the words Jiahab hem shebeth were to be written on 
the tablet as the designation of Egypt. Rahab, i.e. Egypt, is 
sitting still. They may brag, as the name Rahab implies, but they 
will not move to help you. 


of the faithless and cowardly Ahaz ; the trusted 
counsellor of the well-intentioned though vacillating 
Hezekiah. In no gentle terms he denounced an 
unworthy minister of state, and frankly warned his 
successor of the dangers and temptations of office 
(xxii. 15 ff., 24 f.). When he needed a witness in the 
prosecution of his prophetic work, he could call 
upon the chief ecclesiastical authority of the city 
(viii. 2). 

The variety of his activities is most remarkable. 
Not only was he a religious and social reformer, a 
preacher of righteousness and godliness, but a keen 
and far-sighted statesman. He observed the political 
movements of the day at home and abroad. He 
criticised them from the divine standpoint. He 
pronounced an authoritative judgement on their 
true meaning and issue in relation to the will and 
purpose of God. But though he thus lived among 
his people, intensely interested in all that concerned 
their welfare, and fully conscious of the importance 
of the present, he looked forth from his prophetic 
watch-tower upon the nations around, and marked 
their movements and foretold their destinies ; he 
looked forward with clear eye to a future in which 
Israel, purified in the fire of judgement, should realise 
its calling, and be the centre from which spiritual 
knowledge should go forth to illuminate the nations 
of the world. 



The Book oj At the outset of any attempt to form an estimate 


of the work and teaching of Isaiah, we are met by the 
preliminary question, how much of the volume which 
bears the name of Isaiah can be ascribed to the son of 
Amoz, the friend and counsellor of Hezekiah. Modern 
criticism, upon grounds of which the general principles 
have been stated in the first Lecture, detaches at one 
stroke the last twenty-seven chapters, and assigns that 
sublime prophecy to one or possibly more authors, who 
lived towards the close of the Babylonian Exile, when 
Cyrus had already commenced his career of conquest. 
That this view is not only critically justified, but 
that it sheds a flood of light on the meaning of the 
prophecy, I hope to shew in a future Lecture. But 
criticism does not stop here. Upon similar grounds, 
more or less convincing in each particular case, some 
twelve out of the first thirty-nine chapters are pro- 
nounced not to be from Isaiah's pen. Among these 
passages are to be reckoned the doom of Babylon, to- 
gether with the magnificent ode of triumph at the 
oppressor's downfall (xiii. 2-xiv. 23) : the vision of 
universal judgement and national restoration which 
forms the epilogue to the collection of prophecies 
against the nations (xxiv-xxvii) : the doom of Edom 
and its contrast in the glorious future of Israel which 
forms a similar epilogue to the collection of discourses 


belonging to the reign of Hezekiah (xxxiv, xxxv) ; 
the historical record found also with comparatively 
small variation in the Book of Kings (xxxvi-xxxix, 
with the exception of Isaiah's words in xxxvii. 21-35) : 
together with some shorter and less important 
pieces, about which opinion is less decided. These 
passages are thought to presume historical circum- 
stances which are not those of Isaiah's time. They 
differ in style, more or less markedly, from the 
undoubted prophecies of Isaiah. They contain theo- 
logical ideas which appear to be in advance of those 
of Isaiah's day, and to belong to a later stage in the 
development of revelation. 

It is obviously impossible to discuss here the 
validity of the grounds upon which this judgement 
rests in each case. But they are certainly of sufficient 
weight to make it necessary to set these passages on 
one side in endeavouring to form an estimate of 
Isaiah's work and teaching. The devout student of 
Holy Scripture need not be disquieted by such a 
conclusion. The canonicity of a particular document 
does not depend upon the accuracy of the tradition 
with regard to its authorship. Its inspiration is not 
invalidated if that tradition is found to be erroneous. 
Isaiah is honoured rather than dishonoured if he is 
seen to have been the founder of a school, to which 
no small part of the book which bears his name is 
due. The Holy Spirit is not limited to the use of 
one instrument in preference to many. Whether the 

150 ISAIAH'S CALL lect. 

Book of Isaiah is the work of one prophet or of many, 
it is placed in our hands as an undoubted part of the 
canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament, and is tc 
be studied as such. But our concern at the present 
moment is not with the book as a whole, but with 
those parts of it which may without reasonable doubt 
be attributed to Isaiah himself. 


The call of The key to the right understanding of Isaiah's 

Isaiah . . 

ministry is to be found in the account of his call to 
the prophetic office, which is given in the sixth 
chapter. It was in the year of King Uzziah's death. 
That monarch's long reign had been, like the reign of 
his contemporary Jeroboam II for northern Israel, 
a period of prosperity such as Judah had not known 
since the time of Solomon. But for those who saw 
below the surface, its splendour was dimmed by the 
deep-seated decay of religion and morality. One day 
in that year, as the prophet worshipped in the Temple 
courts, musing peradventure upon the sovereignty of 
the King of Israel, Jehovah of hosts, Who had set His 
throne there, and upon the failure of His subjects to 
render Him a loyal homage ; meditating upon the 
holiness of Jehovah and the appalling contrast pre- 
sented by the almost universal unholiness of the 
nation ; the earthly Temple faded from his view, and 
its place was taken by its heavenly counterpart. The 


veil which shrouded the inner sanctuary of the divine 
Presence was drawn aside. Instead of the Ark, the 
symbol of that Presence, he beheld the throne itself 
whereon the Lord was seated ; instead of the 
Cherubim of glory, overshadowing the mercy- seat, 
he saw attendant seraphs hovering above the 
throne ; instead of the chant of priests and Levites, 
he heard those seraphs answering one another in 
perpetual hymn, 1 

Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts, 
The whole earth is full of His glory. 

Yet all he saw was as it were the skirts of the robe 
of Him who sat there; for who can look upon the face 
of God and live ? and he marked how even those holy 
seraphs were wont to veil their faces before the divine 
Majesty, as unworthy to behold it ; and to cover their 
feet, as though conscious of the imperfection of their 

Then, as the prophet gazed upon the sight, and 
listened to those voices unceasingly proclaiming the 
essential nature of the thrice holy God, the sense of 
his own uncleanness, of his own unfitness to bear the 
holy message of that holy Being, the sense of the 
uncleanness of his people which, as dwelling in the 
midst of them and representing them, he could not 
escape, overwhelmed him utterly. Woe is me ! he 

1 Even the R.V. fails to mark the frequentative tense, one kept 
crying unto another, etc. Rightly the Te Deum : " Tibi Cherubin 
et Seraphin incessabili voce proclamant, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, 
Domiuus Deus Sabaoth." 

152 ISAIAH'S CALL lect. 

cried, for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean 
lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean 
lips : for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of 
hosts. But his lips are touched with a live coal from 
off the altar. The cleansing fire of divine love purges 
away his sinfulness. He is ready for his commission. 
When he hears the voice asking, Whom shall I send, 
and who will go for us ? he is prepared to answer, 
Here am I ; send me. But what a crushing task it is! 
Go, and tell this people, Hear ye continually, but under- 
stand not; and see ye continually, but perceive not. 
Make the heart of this people gross, and make its ears 
dull, and seal up its eyes; lest it see with its eyes, 
and hear with its ears, and its heart understand, 
and it turn and be healed. It is a stern sentence. 
But the nation was already insensible, deaf, and 
blind. God's message must fall upon unreceptive 
ears, and it is a fixed law of the divine economy 
that calls to repentance, messages of grace, all good 
motions and impulses, do but harden the hearts 
of those who will not yield to them. Individuals 
would no doubt hear and repent. But the nation 
as a whole was spiritually dead. Isaiah's ministry 
would but confirm the obdurate mass of the people 
in its obduracy. 

Lord, how long ? He dares not appeal against the 
sentence as Amos did (vii. 2, 5). But he feels that it 
cannot be final. The answer comes that cities must 
be wasted and houses uninhabited, that the land 


must be desolate and its people exiled. Judgement 
must follow upon judgement until the evil is 
destroyed. Yet the nation cannot be annihilated. 
As the life remains in the stump of the felled 
oak tree, ready, when spring returns, to throw 
up fresh shoots, so there will be a holy seed left 
in Israel, ready, when the winter of its punishment 
is over, to spring up once more into a holy nation 
(vi. 13, E.Y.). 

That vision stamped an indelible character upon 
Isaiah's whole ministry. The majesty, the holiness, 
the glory of God : these are the ideas which fill and 
awe his spirit. They intensify his sense of the petti- 
ness of man, of the impertinent absurdity of human 
pride, of the intolerable enormity of Israel's defiance 
of Jehovah. But while he is possessed with the cer- 
tainty that judgement must come to purge the un- 
godly nation, he is equally confident that the people 
and city of God's choice cannot perish utterly. A 
remnant shall return is the echo of the words, a holy 
seed is the stock thereof. 

It seems plain that this vision was the primary 
call of Isaiah to his prophetic ministry, and not, as 
some have supposed, a second and special call to the 
ministry of hardening. Why then does the account 
of it stand where it does, and not, as might have been 
expected, at the beginning of the book ? The most 
probable answer seems to be that it was originally 
prefixed to a collection of prophecies belonging to the 


reign of Ahaz wffich was published separately, and 
that it was retained in this position when the various 
subordinate collections were united. We can easily 
understand that Isaiah might not have felt disposed 
at once to publish so solemn an experience, and re- 
served it for the preface to prophecies of the time of 
Ahaz, instead of prefixing it to those of the reign of 
Jotham. There is at least this appropriateness in the 
present order. The opening chapters have familiar- 
ised us with the character of the people. We have 
learned something of the sins which are demanding 
punishment. We are prepared to understand the 
terms of his mission, and to sympathise with him in 
his arduous task. 


Circum- Isaiah's ministry may be divided into three periods, 
the time, corresponding approximately to the reigns of Jotham, 
Ahaz, and Hezekiah. If he lived on into the reign of 
Manasseh, by whom, according to tradition, he was 
sawn asunder, we have no record of his ministry 
which can be connected with the history of the time. 
Let us endeavour to realise the condition of Judah in 
the year of Uzziah's death, when Isaiah began his 
work. It was not unlike that of Israel in the time 
of Jeroboam II. For while Jeroboam had been ex- 
tending the power of Israel in the north, Uzziah had 
been strengthening the kingdom of Judah in the 


south. He waged successful wars against the Philis- 
tines, dismantled the fortresses of Gath, Jabneh, and 
Ashdod, and built cities for himself in Philistia. 
The Ammonites and Edomites were among his vassals. 
He fortified Jerusalem and other cities, reorganised 
the army, and stocked his arsenals with munitions of 
war. ISTor was he less successful in the arts of peace. 
He largely developed the internal resources of the 
country. He rebuilt the port of Elath on the Eed 
Sea, by which the commerce of the East found its 
way to Jerusalem. The occupation of Sela, which 
had been captured by Amaziah, commanded the trade 
route to Southern Arabia. But, as was the case in 
the Northern Kingdom, prosperity had brought grave 
evils in its train, and sowed the seeds of disaster and 
ruin. The increase of wealth and luxury had under- 
mined the ancient national life. The greed of gain 
had sapped the nation's morality. As the rich grew 
richer and more powerful, the poor grew poorer and 
more defenceless. 

Jotham continued his father's policy with success, w Reign oj 


He strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem, built b.o. 7W-735 
castles and towers in the forests, perhaps beyond 
Jordan, and suppressed an Ammonite revolt. Only 
towards the end of his reign were the murmurs of the 
coming storm heard. Pekah and Eezin attacked him, 
though without success. But it was a warning of 
what was in store for his successor. 

Under these circumstances Isaiah commenced his 


ministry. To the reign of Jotham may be referred 
with confidence the discourses included in chaps, 
ii-iv, together witli the closely connected appendix 
in chap. v. One or two references suggest that these 
discourses were not committed, to writing until Ahaz 
had come to the throne, but in the main they reflect 
the time when disaster had not yet befallen the state, 
and the pride of Judah was still unbroken. From 
them we may draw a picture of the social and reli- 
gious evils of the time. Listen to Isaiah's sarcastic 
inventory of the jewellery and the wardrobes of the 
fashionable ladies of the capital : the anklets and the 
networks and the crescents, the pendants and the bracelets 
and the veils, the head tires and the ankle chains and 
the sashes and the perfume boxes and the amulets ; the 
rings and the nose jewels ; the festival robes and the 
mantles and the shaids and the satchels, the mirrors 
and the muslin veils and the turbans and the scarves 
(hi. 18 ff.). With contemptuous severity he pictures 
these haughty daughters of Zion promenading the 
streets with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walk- 
ing and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling 
with their feet with the anklets which they wore. 

Listen to the woe which the prophet pronounces 
upon the revellers who rise up early in the morning, 
that they may folloio after strong drink, and tarry late 
into the night, while wine inflames them. And, the harp 
and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, and ivine, are in 
their feasts (v. 11 f.). 


Listen to his indictment against the rich men 
who had accumulated vast estates by ousting poor 
yeomen from their ancestral holdings in contradiction 
to the fundamentally democratic spirit of the Israelite 
commonwealth. Woe unto them that join house to house, 
that annex field to field, till there be no room, and ye 
are left to dwell alone in the midst of the land (v. 8). 

Listen to the cry of the poor, plundered and crushed 
and ground down, seeking in vain for redress from 
venal judges who take bribes to acquit the guilty, 
and condemn the innocent (v. 7, 23). It is the elders 
and the princes who are to blame. Israel was 
Jehovah's vineyard, and its ruling classes resembled 
keepers of a vineyard who had behaved like the 
cattle which they were set to exclude from it, and had 
themselves browsed upon it. It is ye that have eaten 
up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses : 
what mean ye that ye crush My people, and grind 
the face of the poor ? saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts 
(iii. 14 f.). 

Eeligious indifference accompanied the growth of 
luxury, and lay at the root of the decay of morality. 
The worship of Jehovah had degenerated into a heart- 
less though elaborate ceremonial (i. 11 ff.). 1 Idolatry 
was common; foreign superstitions of all kinds were 
freely practised; magic and witchcraft and necro- 
mancy were resorted to by those who were anxious 

1 A few references are introduced, which, though taken from 
later prophecies, illustrate the tendencies of this period. 


to penetrate into the mystery of the future instead 
of doing their duty in the present (ii. 6 ff. ; hi. 2, 3 • 
viii. 19 f.). 

Scornful sceptics denied the providential govern- 
ment of Jehovah, and challenged Him to prove His 
power by action. Let Him make speed, let Him hasten 
His work that we may see it : and let the counsel of the 
Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may 
know it (v. 19). Some undermined the foundations 
of morality ; obliterating the distinction between right 
and wrong, and calling evil good and good evil 
(v. 20). False prophets misled the people, and drugged 
their consciences by prophesying smooth things 
(ix. 15 ; xx viii. 7 ; cp. Micah ii. 6 ; iii. 5, 11) ; and 
the people on their part welcomed the delusion, and 
strove to silence the voice of fearless reproof (xxx. 
9 ff.). A complacent self-confidence and a proud 
reliance in the abundance of their wealth and the 
strength of their armaments characterised the nation 
generally. Their defiant independence seemed to 
proclaim aloud that they had no need of Jehovah to 
protect their land and their city (ii. 7 ff. ; iii. 8). 
The im- In the face of this state of things Isaiah's message 


judgement, is almost exclusively a message of judgement. The 
day of Jehovah is at hand; a day of judgement upon 
all human pride, a day of woe to all those self-satisfied 
sinners. Jehovah of hosts hath a day upon all that is 
proud and haughty, and upon all that is lifted up; and 
it shall be brought low (ii. 12). Jehovah standeth up 


to plead, and standeth to judge the peoples (iii. 13). He 
will break down the fence of His vineyard, and leave 
it to be devoured and trodden down. Jehovah's 
people must go into captivity for lack of know- 
ledge. Sheol will open its jaws, and swallow up all 
Jerusalem's magnificence and thronging population 
and noisy crowds of careless holiday-keepers (v. 5 ff., 
14). The judgement fell upon them in the invasion 
of Pekah and Rezin ; and in an appendix added 
apparently after this event Isaiah describes the 
catastrophe, and, doubtless in view of the spirit 
in which it had been met, warns the people that 
Jehovah's anger is not yet turned away, and that He 
is summoning a yet more terrible enemy from the 
ends of the earth. He gives that enemy no name, 
but beyond a question it is the invincible and untir- 
ing Assyrian that he has in view (v. 25 ff.). 1 

Yet all this judgement is for purification, not for 
destruction. A remnant will be left. When chas- 
tisement has done its work, it shall come to pass, that 
he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in 
Jerusalem, shall be called holy. Jehovah will once 
more manifest His Presence there as of old time in a 

1 With some hesitation I have treated the perfects in v. 13-16 
as 'prophetic' perfects, or perfects of certainty, referring, by a well- 
known Hebrew idiom, to that which is still future, but must inevit- 
ably come. " My people are gone into captivity "= "must surely 
go." But the natural explanation of v. 25 ff. is to regard it as an 
addition to the original prophecy, pointing to its fulfilment in the 
disasters of the Syro-Ephraimite invasion, and warning (vv. 26 ff. ) 
that still worse calamities are in store for an unrepentant people. 


cloud of smoke by day, and a flaming fire by night 
(iv. 3, 5). 
(U) Reign It is probable that during part of the sixteen 

of Ahaz. 

b.c. 735-728. years assigned as the length of Jotham's reign (2 Kings 
xv. 33) he was acting as regent during his father's 
enforced seclusion from public affairs, and that his 
reign as sole king was but a short one. His son 
Ahaz succeeded him, and the disasters predicted by 
Isaiah speedily fell upon Judah. Ahaz was a weak, 
vain, incapable prince, "a child of that spirit of 
the age against which Isaiah was waging war." The 
heathenish party, led by the king himself, at once 
gained the ascendency. Idolatries of all kinds were 
introduced. The horrors of Moloch -worship were 
revived. The public worship of Jehovah was sus- 
pended. 1 

Meanwhile Ahaz was threatened with invasion. 
The sole object of the series of unprincipled adven- 
turers who succeeded Jeroboam II in the Northern 
Kingdom was self- aggrandisement. Casting about 
for some means of securing himself upon the throne 
which he had seized by violence, Pekah entered 
into an alliance with Eezin the king of Syria, for the 
purpose of conquering Judah. It was a policy as short- 
sighted as it was unbrotherly, for it could hardly 
fail to end in the intervention of Assyria. The con- 
federate kings attacked Jotham without success. 

1 See 2 Kings xvi. 3, 4, 10 tf. ; xxiii. 11, 12 ; 2 Chron. xxviii. 2 ff., 
23 ff. ; xxix. 7. Isaiah alludes to him as a petulant child (iii. 4, 12). 


But the accession of Ahaz was the signal for the 
renewal of the attack. They invaded Judah with 
the intention of dethroning Ahaz, and setting 
up a creature of their own, Ben Tabeel, in his 
place. Ahaz and his people were in consterna- 
tion. In the expressive phrase of Isaiah, his heart 
shook, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the 
forest shake before the wind (vii. 2). It was a critical 
moment. The only policy which his counsellors 
could suggest was that he should make a humble 
submission to Assyria, and throw himself upon 
Tiglath-Pileser's protection. At this juncture Isaiah 
was sent to him with a message of warning and 
encouragement. He went out along with his son 
Shear-yashub, whose name was a pledge of Jehovah's 
final purpose of mercy through judgement, and found 
Ahaz inspecting the water-supply of the city, in 
preparation for the expected siege. Take heed, and 
be quiet, was his counsel; fear not, neither let thine 
heart be faint, because of these two stumps of smoulder- 
ing firebrands (vii. 4). It was not from them that 
Judah had to fear. The power of Syria and Israel 
was doomed. But, he concludes with significant 
warning, if ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be 
established (vii. 9). The meaning is clear. Ahaz 
must choose between the policy of faith and the 
policy of unbelief; between reliance upon Jehovah 
and reliance upon Tiglath - Pileser. He chose the 
latter. Tiglath-Pileser's help was given, but not before 



the allied kings had inflicted a severe defeat upon 
Ahaz, captured a host of prisoners, and actually 
besieged Jerusalem. 1 Probably they were compelled 
to raise the siege by the news that an Assyrian army 
was in motion. Tiglath-Pileser invaded Syria and 
Israel, and carried away the inhabitants of the 
northern part of the kingdom of Israel into exile. 
Two years later, in B.C. 732, Damascus was taken. 
Before he returned home, Tiglath-Pileser held a 
court at Damascus, at which he received homage 
from his vassals. Among them, as we learn from his 
triumphal inscription as well as from the Book of 
Kings (xvi. 10), was Ahaz. Thus Ahaz was delivered, 
but at what a price ! Not the gold and the silver 
only, which he took from the treasuries of the 
Temple and the palace, but the independence of 
Judah, was the ransom which he paid. From this 
time onwards, with the exception of brief intervals, 
Judah was the tributary vassal of Assyria, until for 
a moment Egypt seized its share of the decaying 
empire, only to surrender it at once to the still 
mightier power of Babylon. 

Isaiah's watchword in this crisis was Immanuel, 
' God is with us ' ; as the Psalmist of a few years 
later expands it — 

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved/ 
God shall help her, when the morning davmeth. 

In this hour of Zion's peril and her king's faith- 
1 Isa. vii. 1 ; v. 25 ; 2 Chron. xxviii. 5 iT. 


lessness, in full view of the dark days of calamity to 
come, in sight of preparations for war and amid 
signs of disaster and defeat, with trumpet tones 
Isaiah rings out that thrilling prophecy of a great 
light which should dawn upon the darkness, of the 
final victory of God's people over their oppressors, 
of the Child of promise who should found an eternal 
kingdom of peace and righteousness (ix. 1 ff.). 

The reign of Hezekiah forms the third and most («*) Reign 

° of Hezekiah 

brilliant period of Isaiah's ministry. Soon after his B - c - ™ 8 - 69 i 
accession Hezekiah, stimulated by the warnings of 
Micah (Jer. xxvi. 18, 19), and supported, no doubt, 
by Isaiah, carried out a great reformation, abolished 
idolatry, and restored the worship of Jehovah. The 
high places, and such objects of superstition as the 
brazen serpent, were destroyed ; the Temple was 
reopened ; the Passover was celebrated. He resumed 
the policy of Uzziah ; strengthened the defences of 
Jerusalem ; 1 filled his arsenals ; and recovered some 
of the prestige which Ahaz had lost. He encouraged 
agriculture ; and we learn from the title of the 
later collection of Proverbs (xxv. 1) that his scribes 
were employed upon the collection and preserva- 
tion of the literature of the country. 

Soon after the accession of Hezekiah, Tiglath- 
Pileser was succeeded by Shalmaneser IV (b.c. 727). 

1 The 'Siloam inscription,' found in 1880, describes the con- 
struction of a tunnel connecting the Virgin's Spring with the Pool 
of Siloam. This may have been the conduit which Hezekiah made 
to improve the water-supply of the city (2 Kings xx. 20). 


Egypt had recently been conquered by Ethiopia 
and Shebek I, called by Greek writers Sabaco, 1 
reigned at Memphis. Efforts were made to unite 
the states on the Mediterranean in a coalition with 
Egypt against Assyria. Hoshea, who had been 
placed upon the throne as a vassal of Assyria, 
refused to pay tribute. Shalmaneser invaded the 
Northern Kingdom, and made Hoshea prisoner. 
After a three years' siege Samaria was captured 
in B.C. 722, not however by Shalmaneser but by 
his successor Sargon, who had just come to the 
throne. A large number of the Israelites were 
carried into exile, and their place filled by Baby- 
lonians. An Assyrian governor was appointed, and 
the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist. 

It was apparently in these early years of Heze- 
kiah's reign that a strong party in Jerusalem advo- 
cated alliance with Egypt. This policy Isaiah 
resisted with all the eloquence and authority at his 
command. The series of discourses preserved in 
chaps, xxviii-xxxi is the record of his efforts. 2 As 

1 In 2 Kings xvii. 4 he is called, according to the Massoretic 
text, So. But this is probably an erroneous vocalisation for Seve. 
The identification of So with Shebek has, however, recently been 

2 Chaps, xxix-xxxi are very commonly referred to B.C. 702, 
on the ground that xxix. 1 anticipates the siege of Jerusalem 
within a year. But this interpretation of the verse is very 
questionable. On the other hand, xxviii. 1 ff. is anterior to the 
destruction of Samaria, and chaps, xxix-xxxi appear to be closely 
connected with it. Ch. xxviii. 15 ff. will refer to the Egyptian 
alliance which was being negotiated, and which is further referred 


strongly as he had resisted the fatal determination 
of Ahaz to call in the aid of Assyria, he now resisted 
the policy of breaking loose from Assyria in reliance 
upon Egyptian help, and advocated submission and 

We may trace the steps of the negotiations 
with Egypt in Isaiah's denunciation of the policy 
of the secular statesmen of Jerusalem. Samaria's 
destruction is imminent. The ministers of Jehovah's 
judgement are at hand (xxviii. 1 ff.). But Judah is 
scarcely less guilty, and stands in need of sharp 
discipline. The statesmen of Jerusalem indeed boast 
that they have secured themselves in the coming 
storm. We have made a covenant with death, and 
with Sheol are we at agreement ; * when the overflowing 
scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us ; 
for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood 
have we hid ourselves (xxviii. 15). The prophet 
ironically puts into their own mouths words which 
describe the true character of the Egyptian alliance 
upon which they were depending. It was lies 

to in the following chapters. The references to idolatry (xxx. 22 ; 
xxxi. 7 ; notice the close parallel to these passages in xvii. 8, about 
734) point to a time before Hezekiah's reformation, which must 
have taken place in the early years of his reign. Ch. xxxiii 
belongs partly to the time of Sennacberib's invasion (w. 7 ff.), 
partly to the time immediately after his retreat (w. 13 ff.). Possibly 
the discourses of chaps, xxviii-xxxi were collected and published 
with the addition of chaps, xxxii and xxxiii at this time. 

1 Is this passage a reference to Hos. xiii. 14 ? ' Death and hell 
may have been invoked to do their worst upon the Northern 
Kingdom (see p. 135), but we are secure.' 


and falsehood, for it involved a breach of faith with 
Assyria and was in itself a delusion. The foundation 
of the divine kingdom was laid in Zion ; deliverance 
would come, but not from the quarter to which they 
looked for it. The storm would burst ; the hail 
would sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters 
would overflow the hiding-place. If they persisted in 
their policy, their bands would be made strong (v. 22). 
The yoke of Assyrian domination would be riveted 
more firmly on their necks. They endeavour to 
conceal their negotiations from the prophet, but in 
vain. Woe unto them that strive to hide their counsel 
deep from Jehovah, and their work is in the dark, 
and they say } Who seeth us ? and who Icnoweth us ? 
(xxix. 15). He cannot prevent the embassy from 
being sent, but he exposes its folly and uselessness. 
Woe to the rebellious children, saith Jehovah ; taking 
counsel but not of Me, and weaving a web, but not of 
My spirit, in order to add sin to sin : that walk to go 
down into Egypt, and have not asked at My mouth ; to 
shelter themselves in the shelter of Pharaoh, and to take 
refuge in the shadow of Egypt. But the shelter of 
Pharaoh shall prove your shame, and refuge in the 
shadow of Egypt your disgrace (xxx. 1 ff.). The real 
grounds of their hankering for alliance with Egypt 
were mistrust of Jehovah, and confidence in material 
power. Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, 
and rely upon horses ; and trust in chariots, because 
they are many, and in horsemen, because they are very 


strong ; but they have not looked to the Holy One of 
Israel, neither sought Jehovah. . . . But the Egyptians 
are man, and not God ; and their horses are Jlesh, and 
not spirit: and when Jehovah stretcheth forth His 
hand, both helper and holpen shall stumble and fall, 
and they shall all fail together (xxxi. 1, 3). 

Either in consequence of Isaiah's influence or 
owing to external circumstances, Judah did not 
revolt, and Jerusalem escaped the fate of Samaria. 
Two years later (B.C. 720) Sargon totally defeated 
Sabaco in the battle of Eaphia, and verified Isaiah's 
warnings of the futility of reliance upon Egypt. Nine 
years later (b.c. 711) Sargon's armies were in Palestine 
again. Ashdod, depending apparently upon Egyptian 
help, had revolted and endeavoured to get neigh- 
bouring states to join it. Its presumption was 
speedily chastised, and the Egyptians left it in the 

For some time the Assyrians appear to have left 
Palestine alone, and it may be inferred that Judah 
and the neighbouring countries paid their tribute 
quietly. Again and again Isaiah, while advocating 
submission to the yoke of Assyria, repeats that this 
scourge of God is but a servant in the hand of his 
master. Not a step further can he go than he is 
permitted ; and the time will come when his pride 
must be humbled and he will be taught to recognise 
Jehovah's supremacy. 1 

1 See e.g. x. 5 £F. , belonging probably to tbe time of Sargon. 


The death of Sargon and the accession of Senna- 
cherib in B.C. 705 led to a change in the position 
of affairs. Merodach - baladan of Babylon revolted, 
and endeavoured to stir up the western states to 
revolt also. The opportunity seemed favourable, and 
Hezekiah asserted his independence. Sennacherib 
promptly came to chastise his rebellious vassal. 
The last hour of Jerusalem seemed to have come. 
The exact course of events is obscure, but it appears 
that Sennacherib ravaged Judah, forced Hezekiah to 
submit, and compelled him to pay a heavy indemnity, 
without however requiring the surrender of Jerusalem 
(2 Kings xviii. 13-16). But reflection convinced him 
that it would be imprudent to leave so strong a 
fortress in Hezekiah's hands while he marched on 
to Egypt ; and he therefore detached a force under 
the Tartan and the Eabsaris and the Babshakeh 1 
to threaten Jerusalem, and demand its surrender. 
Though the force was insufficient to invest the city, 
a refusal seemed certain to ensure condign chastise- 
ment when Sennacherib returned victorious from his 
Egyptian campaign. What should Hezekiah do?- 
In his extremity he sent to Isaiah for advice. The 
prophet bade him not to fear, and Sennacherib's 

1 These are not proper names, but titles of Assyrian officers. 
Tartan = commander-in-chief; Rabsaris, according to Pinches' 
recent discovery (Academy, 25th June 1892, p. 618) = Rabu-sa-resu, 
chief of the heads or princes ; Rabshakeh = Rab-saki, chief of the 
captains. The two last titles have been Hebraised in a form which 
gives them a wrong meaning. The chief of the eunuchs ami On 
chief of the cup-bearers would hardly be military officers. 


demands were refused. Babshakeh returned to his 
master, who was now besieging Libnah. Gladly no 
doubt would he have inflicted a summary vengeance. 
But Tirhakah's army was already on the march, and 
he was forced to content himself by replying to 
Hezekiah's defiance with fresh threats. The letter 
which he sent to Hezekiah was a contemptuous 
denial of Jehovah's power to defend Jerusalem. 
Hezekiah took the letter to the Temple, and spread 
it before Jehovah, with earnest prayer that He whose 
honour had been impeached would vindicate His 
claim to be the living God. 

Then it was that Isaiah uttered that sublime pro- 
phecy in which this period of his ministry culminates. 
Sennacherib's proud words, he declared, were rank 
blasphemy. He knew not who it was whom he had 
defied. But now that haughty spirit would find that 
he had met his master, I will put My hook in thy 
nose, and My bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee 
back by the way by which thou earnest. Jehovah's city 
should be inviolate. He shall not come unto this city, 
nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before 
it with shield, nor cast a mount against it. . . . For I 
will defend this city to save it, for Mine own sake, and 
for My servant David's sake (xxxvii. 29, 33, 35). 

And so it came to pass. The angel of Jehovah went 
forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred 
and fourscore and five thousand. What form that 
sudden and mysterious catastrophe wore to human 


eyes, we do not know. Probably it was a pestilence 
Unable to face Tirhakah's army, Sennacherib turned 
homewards, leaving Jerusalem unharmed. Twenty 
years later he died by the hands of his own sons as 
he was worshipping in the temple of Nisroch. 

So, as ever, man's extremity was God's opportunity. 
Isaiah lived to see his own prophecies fulfilled, and 
to prove God's faithfulness to His promises. In a 
passage of singular poetic power and beauty he cele- 
brates the deliverance 1 (xxxiii. 13 ff.). He looks for 
its moral effect upon the sinners in Zion. Surely 
now they will be startled into repentance by the 
visible tokens of God's presence in their midst. Once 
more the people of Judah will see their king restored 
to his proper dignity, and his kingdom extending to 
its old limits. The recollection of the terrors of the 
invasion, the preparations for the siege, the fierce looks 
and strange language of the Assyrian invader, will 
deepen their sense of gratitude for deliverance. Jeru- 
salem will enjoy a perfect peace. Look upon Zion, the 
city of our solemnities. Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem 
a quiet habitation, a tent that shall never be removed, 
the stakes whereof shall never be plucked up, neither 
shall any of the cords thereof be broken. And in his 
closing words the prophet sees the final goal as 
though it were close before him. The inhabitant shall 

1 Psalms xlvi-xlviii and probably lxxv, lxxvi belong to this 
time, and should be read in illustration of Zion's jubilant thank- 


not say, I am sick: the people, that dwell therein shall 
be forgiven their iniquity. 

But the conditions were not fulfilled. Even this 
proof of Jehovah's Presence failed to convince the 
impenitent people. The righteousness for which He 
looked was still wanting. The spiritual Israel had 
not yet been formed out of the carnal Israel. 

Isaiah towers above all the other prophets before imiaKt 


and after. It seems almost presumptuous, in the 
case of so many-sided a genius, to attempt to single 
out special and distinctive elements in his teaching. 
But even Isaiah has his distinguishing character- 
istics. Every prophet was a theologian. His teach- 
ing rested upon that aspect of the divine character 
which had been specially brought home to his 
consciousness. But Isaiah is pre-eminently a theo- 
logian. The vision in which he received his call 
was a revelation of the Glory of Jehovah, exhibiting 
the supreme attributes of Majesty and Holiness. An 
overwhelming sense of these attributes was burnt 
into his inmost soul. It shaped his view of Jehovah's 
relation to Israel and of Israel's behaviour to Jehovah, 
and formed the inspiration and dominating idea of 
his teaching. 

What God is in the ineffable reality of His 
absolute Essence man cannot understand. Upon the 


consuming intensity of that light unapproachable in 
which He dwells no human eye can gaze. But what 
man may know and behold of that divine perfection 
is revealed as God's glory. It is manifested in 
nature, in history, in revelation. The whole earth is 
full of His glory. And in this supreme moment of 
Isaiah's life the glory of God's majesty and the glory 
of God's holiness were flashed into Isaiah's soul. 
The revelation of the divine majesty awakened in 
him the sense of creaturely weakness, of his own 
insignificance : the revelation of the divine holiness 
aroused the sense of human sinfulness, of his own 
transgression. In the light of God's glory man 
shrivels awestruck into nothing ; shrinks conscience- 
smitten and abashed from the Presence he cannot 
endure. These two ruling ideas of the majesty and 
the holiness of Jehovah come into prominence in 
successive periods of his work. Neither is ever 
absent from his mind, but the first distinguishes 
the earlier and the second the later period of his 
(/) The The majesty of Jehovah was a predominant idea 

majesty of 

Jehovah. i n Isaiah's teaching during the reign of Jothana. It 
was, as we have seen, a period in which long years 
of prosperity were bearing bitter fruit. Signs of 
careless luxury and proud independence met the 
prophet's eye and ear wherever he turned. Supersti- 
tion, idolatry, scepticism, infested the whole country. 
The cry of the poor for their lawful rights was 


unheeded. The processes of justice were perverted 
to the ends of oppression. Those vast estates, made 
by dispossessing small holders from their ancestral 
holdings ; those splendid palaces with their sumptu- 
ous banquets and riotous revels ; those extravagant 
wardrobes and costly jewels with which the grand 
ladies of Jerusalem adorned themselves ; those 
horses and chariots, those forts and towers, those 
fleets and armies, of which the statesmen of Judah 
boasted as an impregnable defence ; those private 
chapels with their gold and silver images ; those 
secret rites performed by some cunning soothsayer 
from Philistia or the East ; that reckless indifference 
to truth and right and justice which was compat- 
ible with the most profuse outward ceremonies of 
worship ; — what were all these but a deification of 
wealth and power and selfish pleasure and reckless 
ambition; an insolent defiance of the supreme majesty 
of Jehovah of hosts ? This was the aspect of Israel's 
sins which presented itself to Isaiah's mind in this 
period. Man seemed in his complacent self-aggran- 
disement to have forgotten his Maker ; Israel had 
defiantly flung off the obligation of allegiance to its 
King ; the indictment against them is summed up in 
the words, Their tongue and their doings are against 
Jehovah, to provoke the eyes of His glory (iii. 8). 

Therefore Jehovah must vindicate His character. 
The day of Jehovah is at hand, in which all human 
pride and worldly greatness will be humbled before 


the terrible manifestation of His majesty. Enter into 
the rock, and hide thee in the dust, from before the 
terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of His majesty. 
The lofty looks of man shall be brought low, and the 
haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and Jehovah 
alone sliall be exalted in that day. Men will fling 
away their impotent idols to the moles and to the 
bats, and flee to hide themselves from before the 
terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of His majesty, 
when He ariseth to shake mightily the earth (ii. 10 ff., 
17, 19 ff . ; cp. v. 15). In that day He will prove to 
the trembling and astonished people His paramount 
supremacy. He will demonstrate that He is the 
jealous God, Who tolerates no rival, and cannot be 
satisfied with a half-hearted allegiance. Throughout 
the group of prophecies from the reign of Jotham 
(chaps, ii-v) the idea which moves the prophet's 
mind is the sense of Jehovah's majesty, outraged and 
insulted by Judah's proud independence and speedily 
to be vindicated by a searching judgement. 

That judgement fell upon Judah in the attack of 
the Syro-Ephraimite alliance in the reign of Ahaz ; 
in the humiliation which it suffered by other defeats, 
and by its ignominious submission to Assyria ; ulti- 
mately in Sennacherib's invasion, in which, though 
in the end it was delivered, the country suffered 
heavily from the ravages of war and the large in- 
demnity which it paid. The judgement fell upon 
Israel in the internecine feuds which' sapped its 


strength and precipitated its ruin, and in the suc- 
cessive invasions of the Assyrians, by which the 
kingdom was first curtailed and then destroyed. 

But judgement was in store for Assyria also. The 
Assyrian had a commission from Jehovah. He was the 
rod of Jehovah's anger, and the staff in his hand was 
Jehovah's indignation. But he knew it not. He too 
would grow proud in his own conceit, and fancy 
himself the lord of all the world, and boast, By the 
strength of my hand I have done it, and by my 
wisdom; for I am prudent. And therefore it will 
come to pass, that when the Lord has performed His 
whole work upon mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, 
He will punish the fruit of the stoat heart of the 
king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks (x. 5 ff., 
12, 13). The majesty which must first be vindi- 
cated in punishing His own people for their pride 
would afterwards be exhibited in vengeance upon 
their enemies. Jehovah is exalted, for He divelleth on 
high, was the moral of Sennacherib's humiliation 
(xxxiii. 5) ; and the triumph song which is put into 
the mouth of the redeemed in the clay of their 
deliverance repeats the same theme : — 

Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon His Name; 
Make known His doings among the peoples, 
Make mention that His name is exalted (xii. 4). 

Still loftier and more comprehensive than the (ftThe 

holiness oj 

idea of Jehovah's majesty is the idea of His holiness. Jefl0 "^. 


Holy, holy, holy, was the cry which Isaiah heard 
from the lips of the adoring Seraphim; and he 
chooses the title the Holy One of Israel to describe 
the relation of Jehovah to His people. What then 
is the meaning of the divine attribute of holiness ? 
and in what sense does Isaiah employ the title 
Holy One of Israel ? 

Holiness is not of course an attribute now for the 
first time ascribed to Jehovah. It is used by Isaiah's 
predecessors. 1 To Amos it is the essential character- 
istic of Deity. The Lord Jehovah, he says, hath 
sworn by Ills holiness (iv. 2). That is synonymous 
with swearing by Himself (vi. 8). In Hosea He 
proclaims Himself to be the Holy One in the midst 
of Ephraim (xi. 9 ; cp. 12). 

Nor is it a title which was limited to the sphere 
of revelation. Other Semitic nations applied it to 
their gods; 2 but revelation takes it, and invests it with 
a deeper significance. Primarily the Hebrew root 
from which the word is derived seems to denote 
separation. It represents God as distinct from man, 
separate from the creation which He has called into 
existence. Then, since limit is the necessary con- 

1 Whether its use can be carried back to the Mosaic age will 
depend upon the view taken of the date of the Song of Moses (Exod. 
xv. 11), and of the ideas which have taken final shape in 
Leviticus (xix. 2, etc.). But it cannot be new to Amos and 

2 The holy gods occurs in the inscription on the sarcophagus of 
Eshniunazar king of Sidon, in the fourth century B.C. {Corp. 
Inscr. Sem. i, p. 14.) 


dition of created things, and imperfection and sin- 
fulness are the marks of humanity in its fallen 
state, the term grows to denote the separation of 
God from all that is limited, imperfect, and sinful. 
But it does not rest here in a merely negative 
conception. It expands so as to include the whole 
essential nature of God in its moral aspect. This it 
is which evokes the unceasing adoration of angelic 
beings. His purity and His righteousness, His faith- 
fulness and His truth, His mercy and His loving- 
kindness, nay even His jealousy and His wrath, His 
zeal and His indignation, — these are the different 
rays which combine to make up the perfect light of 
holiness. It is the moral nature of God, which 
man's dull soul can but dimly imagine; for what 
does he know of absolute truth and righteousness 
and love ? what of the consuming indignation which 
the sight of sin must stir in Him Whose nature is 
an intense zeal for truth and righteousness ? what of 
the reconciliation of apparently opposing attributes 
in perfect unity of will and purpose ? 

God is holy ; persons, places, and things set apart 
for His service are holy by virtue of that consecration ; 
and of men there is demanded an inward holiness 
which shall, in its measure, reflect the holiness of God. 

The character of God as the Holy One in His 
relation to Israel is expressed by the title the Holy 
One of Israel. This title appears to have been coined 
by Isaiah. At any rate it is almost peculiar to the 



Book of Isaiah. 1 It is characteristic of the second 
part of the book as well as of the first, and forms 
one of the most noteworthy links of connexion 
between them. 

Let us try to realise its significance. Jehovah is 
the thrice holy God. This holy God, in all the ful- 
ness of His Deity, has entered into personal relations 
with Israel. He is Israel's God. They are His 
people. He is therefore their Holy One, and His ex- 
press claim upon them is, Ye shall be holy, for I am 
holy (Lev. xi. 44, 45 ; xix. 2 ; xx. 7, 26 ; xxi. 8) : 
ye shall be unto Me a holy nation (Exod. xix. 6 ; Deut. 
vii. 6 ; xiv. 2, 21 ; xxvi. 19 ; xxviii. 9). 2 They are 
to reflect and exhibit to the world Jehovah's character. 
They are to be His witnesses. Perhaps originally 
this meant little more than that they were to be a 
separate people, distinguished by their allegiance to 
Jehovah ; but as His character was gradually revealed 
to them in Law and Prophecy, the claim on Israel 
grew to have a deeper meaning. Then it was that 
the divorce between calling and practice grew to be 
startling. The people fancied that they had a right 
to claim Jehovah's faithfulness to His covenant, while 

1 It occurs three times in the Psalter (lxxi. 22 ; lxxviii. 41 ; 
lxxxix. 18) : twice in Jeremiah, but in chapters which appear to be 
the work of a follower of Jeremiah, and are largely dependent on the 
Book of Isaiah (1. 29 ; li. 5): once in a modified form in Ezekiel 
(xxxix. 7, the Holy One in Israel). Cp. too Hos. xi. 9 ; Hab. i. 12. 

2 Whatever view is taken of the date of the documents from 
which these words are quoted, the ideas contained in them are pre- 
supposed by Isaiah. 


they were at liberty to sit loose to the obligations 
which it imposed upon them. 

So Isaiah comes forward to assert this neglected 
truth of the holiness of Israel's God. It has a double 
aspect. It is a truth of terror, and a truth of con- 
solation. Jehovah must vindicate His neglected 
holiness, not less than His outraged majesty, by the 
chastisement of His people's sins. Yet equally must 
He vindicate it by the defence of His people and the 
destruction of their enemies. 

At the beginning of the book, in an address which 
serves as a general introduction, although not de- 
livered until the reign of Ahaz at the earliest, Isaiah 
strikes this note. The children whom Jehovah has 
brought up and raised to high estate have rebelled 
against Him. They are not a holy nation, but a 
sinful nation. They have forsaken Jehovah, they have 
despised the Holy One of Israel (i. 4). The thought, is 
developed in the parable of the vineyard in ch. v. 
The manifold and tender care of Jehovah for the 
people of His choice had not resulted in the fruit 
which He desired. When He looked that His vine- 
yard should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild 
grapes. Again their transgression is summed up in 
the sentence, They have rejected the teaching of Jehovah 
of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel 
(v. 24). The enormity of those sins of covetousness 
and violence and profligacy and debauchery was only 
aggravated by the insulting hypocrisy of a ceremonial 


worship, which was abomination to Jehovah, while 
they professed to honour Him, though their hearts 
were far from Him. It reached its climax in the 
audacity of a scepticism which challenged Him to 
prove His claim to be the Holy One of Israel by 
action. Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, 
that we may see it ; and let the counsel of the Holy One 
of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it ! 
(v. 19). Therefore in the impending day of judgement 
the holiness not less than the majesty of Jehovah 
will be vindicated. When men are boived down, and 
great men humbled, and the eyes of the lofty are humbled, 
then Jehovah of hosts will be exalted in judgement and 
God the Holy One will be proved holy in righteousness 
(v. 15, 16). 

In the later period of Isaiah's ministry the 
doctrine of the Holy One of Israel became still more 
prominent in his teaching. In that crisis when the 
policy of the worldly-wise statesmen in Jerusalem 
threatened to entangle Judah in an alliance with 
Egypt, and involve it in the ruin which befell 
Samaria, Isaiah unhesitatingly bade his countrymen 
rely upon the Holy One of Israel. If they would 
remain quiet, and obey His message, and conform to 
His will, then in His own time He would be gracious 
to them, and deliver them from the oppression of the 
Assyrian tyrant. His honour was pledged to defend 
His own people. But they were for the most part 
faithless. The worldly spirit predominated. Thus 


said the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, By re- 
turning from your self-chosen policy and keeping still 
shall ye he saved ; in tranquillity and in confidence 
shall be your strength: and ye woidd not (xxx. 15). 
Mockingly they taunted the prophet and his com- 
panions with their great watchword. Cause the Holy 
One of Israel to cease from before us, they cried 
(xxx. 11) ; and instead of looking to the Holy One 
of Israel, and seeking Jehovah, they sent their am- 
bassadors to ask for the help of Egypt, and put their 
trust in chariots and in horsemen (xxxi. 1). 

Calmly Isaiah continued to proclaim his double 
message of judgement and deliverance. Thus saith 
the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, 
namely the prophetic exhortation to rely upon 
Jehovah, and trust in oppression, which they must 
use to extort means for purchasing the help of Egypt, 
and in perverseness, namely the policy of secret in- 
trigue, and rely upon it ; therefore this iniquity shall 
prove to you like a breach ready to fall, bulging out in a 
lofty wall, whose ruin cometh suddenly in an instant 
(xxx. 12, 13). Yet Jehovah will protect Jerusalem, 
like the mother bird hovering over its nest to pro- 
tect its young, passing over it and preserving it, as of 
old He passed over the houses of the Israelites when 
He destroyed the Egyptians (xxxi. 5). 

The Egyptian policy failed, and the danger was 
averted. The shock of the fall of Samaria may have 
contributed to induce the obstinate people to give 


heed to the warnings of the prophets, and enabled 
Hezekiah to effect the reformation of which we read 
in the Book of Kings. 

It was not till some twenty years afterwards that 
the great crisis came. Then, at the moment when 
all seemed lost, the Holy One of Israel proved Him- 
self to be all that He had promised. Sennacherib's 
blasphemous message, contemptuously lowering Je- 
hovah to the level of the gods of the nations whose 
cities he had destroyed, was a flat defiance of the 
Holy One of Israel. Little did the proud king know 
Whom he had challenged. Wliom hast thou reproached 
and hlasphemed ? and against whom hast thou exalted 
thy voice and lifted up thine eyes on high ? even against 
the Holy One of Israel (xxxvii. 23). In the utter- 
most extremity and not until then, Jehovah shewed 
Himself to be the Holy One of Israel, and vindicated 
His holiness not less than His majesty in the deliver- 
ance of His city and His people. 

The great thoughts of the majesty and the holi- 
ness of Jehovah shape and colour Isaiah's hopes for 
the future. It is worth while noticing how entirely the 
author of the Book of Consolation (Is. xl-lxvi) enters 
into the spirit of his master when he represents the 
redemption of Israel from Babylon as the character- 
istic work of Israel's Holy One. This, however, lies 
outside our present subject. But what Isaiah him- 
self looks forward to as the goal of all God's dealings 
with His people is the production of a holy nation. 


In that gloomiest moment, when he is warned that 
the effect of his preaching must be to harden an 
already obdurate nation, he is assured that there is 
still a holy seed within it (vi. 13) ; and when the Lord 
shall have purged the blood-guiltiness of Jerusalem from 
the midst thereof by the spirit of judgement and by the 
spirit of burning, then he that is left in Zion, and 
he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy 
(iv. 3, 4). In the day when Ephraim and Syria are 
humbled, men will no more resort to their altars and 
their idols, but will look unto their Maker and have 
respect unto the Holy One of Israel (xvii. 7, 8). 
When the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his 
Holy One for a flame, consuming the mighty Assyrian 
power like a heap of thorns and briars, the remnant 
of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of 
Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote 
them, but shall stay upon Jehovah, the Holy One of 
Israel, in truth (x. 17, 20). 

When the great transformation comes, the meek 
shall increase their joy in Jehovah, and the poor among 
men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (xxix. 19). 
In that day men's spiritual sight will no more be 
blinded ; their spiritual ears will no more be deaf. 
The deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes 
of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of dark- 
ness (xxix. 18). When they see the manifest tokens of 
Jehovah's Presence in their midst, the sinners in Zion 
are afraid: when they reflect on His judgements 


upon themselves and upon the terrible enemy of the 
nation, trembling surprises the godless ones. Who of 
us, they ask, can sojourn in a consuming fire ? who of 
us can sojourn in perpetual burnings ? Who indeed 
can endure the Presence of the most Holy God, Who 
burns and devours His enemies like thorns and 
thistles ? This is the prophet's answer : He that 
walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly ; that re- 
jecteth the gain of fraud, and shaJceth his hands from 
holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of 
blood, and shutteth his eyes from looking upon evil ; he 
shall dwell on high; strongholds of the rocks shall be 
his refuge ; his bread shall be given him ; his ivater shall 
be sure (xxxiii. 13 ff.). Israel will recognise the holi- 
ness of Jehovah, and reverence His majesty. When 
his children see the work of My hands in the midst of 
him, they shall hallow My Name ; yea they shall hallow 
the Holy One of Jacob, and stand in awe of the God of 
Israel (xxix. 23). 

The triumph song of the redeemed closes with the 
call to joyful adoration : 

Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon His Name ; 
Make known His doings among the peoples, 
Make mention that His Name is exalted. 
Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion ; 
For great is tJie Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. 

(xii. 4, 6.) 



Isaiah's preaching concerned the present. It Messianic 


found its occasion and its object in the needs and the 
circumstances of his own day. But it is constantly 
reaching out beyond the immediate present into the 
future of the divine purpose. The course of God's 
dealings with His people, and in a measure with the 
nations also, is through judgement to redemption. 
The goal of His purposes is the establishment of a 
kingdom of peace and righteousness, the centre of 
light and salvation for the nations. The establish- 
ment of this kingdom is connected with the coming 
of a personal Deliverer, a King who is to spring from 
the house of David. Its seat is to be in Zion, purified 
and regenerated through judgement. 

To his earliest collection of discourses Isaiah has ck. a. 2-4 
prefixed a brief prophecy, taken from Micah or from 
some older prophet, 1 in which the future destiny of 
Zion is described. It serves as a foundation for the 
prophet's call to repentance, and as a foil to the 
description of Judah's sin, shewing the depth of its 
fall by contrast with the sublimity of its mission. In 

1 For our present purpose it is immaterial whether the words 
are Micah's own, or, as many think, borrowed by him as well as 
by Isaiah from some older prophet. Their loose connexion with 
the context shews that they are not Isaiah's own, but he appro- 
priates them by quoting them. I see no sufficient reason for 
regarding them as merely the insertion of a compiler. On the 
other hand, they are firmly embedded in the context in Micah. 


the after-days Zion is to be the spiritual centre of the 
nations. Its spiritual pre-eminence is represented 
under the figure of a physical elevation of the temple- 
mount. Thither not Israel only but the nations of 
the world will go up to worship, and to learn from 
Israel's God. Thence will proceed the divine revela- 
tion. The nations will obey Jehovah's rule, and 
universal peace will be established (ii. 2 ff.). There 
is no hint here of a personal Messiah. Jehovah 
Himself is the Teacher and the Ruler. The form of 
the prophecy is suggested by the pilgrimages of 
worshippers to the Temple. Its spirit is the truth 
that in the divine purpose Zion was to be the centre 
of the world's salvation (John iv. 22). 

The full grandeur of this prophecy is only seen 
when it is brought into relation with the circum- 
stances of the time. When religion and morals were 
at the lowest ebb ; when Israel instead of converting 
the nations to the worship of Jehovah was being 
perverted by their superstitions ; when the nations, 
instead of coming to pay homage to the God of 
Jacob, were threatening to crush His people out of 
existence; at such an inauspicious moment Isaiah 
authoritatively repeats the prophecy which predicts 
the spiritual supremacy of Zion, and the establish- 
ment of an universal peace. 

The group of prophecies which thus opens with 
the ideal of Israel's destiny ends with the description 
of Zion purified through judgement, and protected 


by the Presence of Jehovah in her midst, which we 
have already had occasion to consider (p. 159). That 
prophecy is sometimes thought to contain a reference 
to a personal Messiah. In that day, it runs, shall the 
groivth [tsemach] of Jehovah he beautiful and glorious, 
and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely 
for them that are escaped of Israel (iv. 2). These words 
are thus paraphrased in the Targum : " At that time 
shall the Messiah of Jehovah be a joy and a glory, 
and they that keep the law shall be an honour and 
praise to them that are delivered of Israel." Such a 
personal interpretation, however, does not lie in the 
context. The renewed fertility of the land is a con- 
stant feature in the pictures of the Messianic age, 
and it is to this that the words primarily refer. 
Jehovah makes His land bring forth and bud and 
bear fruit for His restored people, and they find their 
fullest satisfaction in Him and in His gifts, instead 
of craving for material splendour and worldly 

But though a personal reference cannot be intended 
here, it is possible that the passage may be the source 
of the term Tsemach, ' Shoot ' or ' Growth ' (A.V. 
' Branch '), applied to the Messiah in later times. 
Jeremiah speaks of the Messiah as the shoot or growth 
from the stock of David (Jer. xxiii. 5 ; xxxiii. 15) ; 
and Zechariah treats it as a recognised title of the 
Messianic King (iii. 8 ; vi. 12). The use of the terai 
is at once limited and elevated. Isaiah's words may 


include those spiritual gifts of which material bless- 
ings are the symbol (lxi. 11) ; and of all the blessings 
which Jehovah will cause to spring up for His 
land and people, the chief will be that King of 
David's line in whom the hopes of his nation are 
Ck.mi.iuff. In no case perhaps is it so difficult to disengage 
the mind from the associations of its ultimate fulfil- 
ment, and to endeavour to ascertain its original 
meaning, as in the case of the prophecy of Tmmanuel. 
But it is clear that the words, Behold a virgin shall 
conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name 
Immanucl, were not, in their original intention, a 
prediction of the miraculous birth of Jesus. Isaiah 
is giving Ahaz the sign, for which, with a spurious 
assumption of piety, he had refused to ask. Now an 
event which was not to happen for more than seven 
centuries could not form a sign to Ahaz. Moreover, 
the context proceeds to speak of what is shortly to 
happen. Before the child who is to be called Im 
manuel arrives at years of discretion, the power ol 
Syria and Ephraim will be humbled. It is in the 
immediate future that he is to be born. Accordingly 
some commentators regard Immanuel as the Messiah 
whose advent Isaiah expected to fall within the 
period of the Assyrian troubles. But this view 
cannot be regarded as satisfactory, though it com- 
mends itself to many able interpreters. Such a 
" perspective combination of events lying far apart " 


is not indeed contrary to the general conditions of 
prophecy. Isaiah seems to have looked for the com- 
plete regeneration of the nation immediately after 
the deliverance from Assyria, much as the Apostles 
looked for the final coming of the Lord in their own 
lifetime. But the child Immanuel is not connected 
with the house of David, nor is he spoken of as a 
deliverer. And the fatal objection to this theory is 
that an event which did not happen could not possibly 
form a sign to Ahaz. 

The true explanation appears to be that the sign 
consists not in any miraculous circumstances con- 
nected with the birth of the child, 1 but in that which 
is to happen before the child comes to years of 
discretion. Some mother known to Ahaz and the 
prophet, but of whom we know nothing, who was 
soon to give birth to a child, or possibly any woman 
who was about to become a mother, is told that she 
may call her son Immanuel. She may with con- 
fidence give him a name significant of the Presence 
of God with His people. That Presence will be 
manifested in deliverance and in judgement. It will 
be manifested by the fulfilment of the prophet's 
declaration, that from Eezin and Pekah Ahaz has 

1 The Hebrew word rendered virgin in the A.V. would be more 
accurately rendered damsel. It means a young woman of marriage- 
able age, and is not the word which would be naturally used for 
virgin, if that was tbe point which it was desired to emphasise. 
The definite article {the damsel) may refer to a particular young 
woman, or it may be generic, and refer to any young woman who 
was about to become a mother. 


nothing to fear. Before the child comes to years 
of discretion, the land whose two kings Ahaz now 
dreads shall be desolate. But there is another side 
to the sign. The child must feed on curds and honey. 
This does not mean the usual food of childhood, or 
a luxurious diet. It implies that the land will be 
uncultivated, and relapse into a rough pasture, 
furnishing milk and wild honey, and nothing more. 1 
Judgement will fall upon Judah, and that from the 
very quarter to which Ahaz was now looking for 
help, the King of Assyria (v. 17). The course of 
events will prove to the unbelieving king that 
Jehovah holds supreme control over the history of 
the world and the destinies of His people. 

In virtue of his significant name, a representative 
character attaches to Immanuel. He is the pledge 
for his generation of the truth expressed in his name, 
as Isaiah's children by their names were living 
exponents of other truths which he proclaimed. 
Accordingly when Isaiah foretells that the flood of 
Assyrian invasion, pouring over Syria and Ephraim, 
will sweep onward into Judah, he calls Judah Im- 
manuel's land, the home of him whose name is a 
constant reminder of the presence of God and a 
pledge of deliverance (viii. 8). The significance of 
this is plain from what follows. The nations may 
make an uproar, but they shall be broken in pieces ; 

1 Cp. vii. 21-25, which confirms this explanation of the meaning 
of eating curds and honey, as a threat and not a promise. 


they may take counsel, but it shall be brought to 
nought ; for Immanu El, ' With us is God.' 

If this view is correct, the sign given to Ahaz is 
not a direct prophecy of the Messiah and of the 
miraculous manner of His birth, any more than the 
second Psalm is a direct prophecy of the Resurrection, 
or Hosea xi. 1 a direct prophecy of the Flight into 
Egypt. 1 But as the words which in the Psalm re- 
ferred primarily to the adoptive sonship of the king 
are applied in the New Testament to the eternal 
sonship of Christ, so the name given as the pledge of 
the presence of God with His people becomes the 
name of Him who was the mediator of that presence. 
The words describing His birth receive a profound 
depth of meaning, which they admit, though they do 
not necessarily convey it. The name itself becomes 
the expression of the mysterious fact of the Incarna- 
tion. Jesus is the true Immanuel, and in Him the 
prophet's utterance is fulfilled. 

The house of David was represented by a faithless ch. ix. 1-7 
and apostate prince in Ahaz. Its enemies were 
plotting its destruction. It must have seemed hope- 
less to look for deliverance from such a quarter. 
But with the fearless courage of inspiration Isaiah 
proclaims that it is still God's purpose to establish 
His kingdom of peace and righteousness by the 

1 St. Matthew introduces the quotation of Hos. xi. 1 with the 
same words as that of Isa. vii. 14 : that it might be fulfilled which 
was spoken by the Lord through the prophet. 


means of a scion of the house of David. He sees 
the dawn breaking over that part of Israel which had 
suffered most from the Assyrian invasion. 1 He sees 
the power of Israel's oppressor broken as in the 
day when Gideon with his handful of warriors broke 
the power of Midian. He sees the instruments of 
war piled together on the battlefield, and burnt. 

The people tliat walked in the darkness have seen great 

Those that dwelt in the land of deathly gloom, upon them 

hath light shone. 
Thou hast increased the nation, 2 
Thou hast made great its joy ; 
Thexj joy before Thee with joy like that of harvest, 
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 
For the yoke of his burden, and the rod of his back, 
The staff of his oppressor, hast Thou broken as in the day of 

For every boot of booted warrior tramping noisily, 
And every garment rolled in blood, 
Shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. 

And how has this been brought to pass ? Because 

A child is born to us, 

A so7i is given to us, 

And the principality rests upon his shoulder, 

1 In quite an unexpected way the prophecy which seems to 
predict only a temporal restoration receives a spiritual fulfilment 
(Matt. iv. 13 ff.). Despised Galilee becomes the scene of Christ's 
ministry. That which suffered most is most honoured : that which 
was most despised is selected for special privilege. 

2 Or, according to a very generally accepted emendation, Tlwu 
hast increased the rejoicing. 


And his name is called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, 
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of his principality and of peace there shall be 
no end, 

Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to 
establish it, and to uphold it, 

With judgement and with righteousness from henceforth even 
for ever (ix. 2-7). 

The fourfold name of this prince declares his mar- 
vellous nature, and proclaims him to be, in an extra- 
ordinary and mysterious way, the representative of 
Jehovah. The title Wonderful Counsellor conveys 
the idea of his endowment with supernatural wisdom 
in that counsel which was peculiarly the function of 
a king. 1 Mighty God expresses his divine greatness 
and power, as the unique representative of Jehovah, 
who is Himself the mighty God (x. 21). 2 Eternal 
Father describes his paternal tenderness and unend- 
ing care for his people. Prince of Peace denotes the 
character and the end of his government. His 
advent is still future but it is assured. The zeal of 
Jehovah of hosts will perform this. 

In another prophecy the character of this king ch.xi.ijf. 
and his rule is described. The Assyrian has fallen. 
The mighty forest of Lebanon has been hewn down 

1 Cp. xxviii. 29 ; Mic. iv. 9. 

2 "In sucli passages the Old Testament revelation falls into a 
self-contradiction, from which only a miracle has been able to de- 
liver us, the Incarnation of the Son of God " (Orelli, Old Testament 
Prophecy, p. 274). 


(x. 33 f.). But out of the stock of Jesse shall come forth 
a shoot, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. 
The spirit of Jehovah in all its manifold fulness will 
rest upon him to fit him for his office, which he will 
exercise with perfect righteousness and equity. The 
peace of Paradise will be restored in nature. They 
shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain ; 
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, 
as the waters cover the sea (xi. 1-9). 

He will be the signal for that gathering of the 
nations to Zion which had already been foretold. 
Israel's exiles will be brought home from the lands 
whither they have been scattered. Ephraim and 
Judah will live in perfect harmony. The return 
will be like a second Exodus ; and the prophet con- 
cludes by putting into the mouth of the restored 
people a song like that which Israel sang upon the 
shore of the Eed Sea (ch. xii). 

Thus when the kingdom was in the lowest depth 
of degradation, Isaiah foretold the Advent of the ideal 
King of David's line, the pledge and mediator of God's 
presence among His people, to effect the destruction 
of their foes, and establish a kingdom of peace and 
righteousness, the rallying point for all the nations of 
the earth. 
The in- Another series of prophecies relates to Zion as the 

l/'ziJn. y seat of God's kingdom. In the days when Zion was 
threatened with destruction, Isaiah asserts its perma- 
nence. Worldly-minded politicians were intriguing 


for an alliance with Egypt, a policy at once faithless 
and fatal. In contrast to that policy is the tried stone, 
the 'precious corner-stone of sure foundation which 
Jehovah has laid in Zion. The language is a metaphor 
from the solid and costly foundations of the Temple. 
What is that stone of sure foundation? Not the city, 
nor the Temple, nor the house of David, but the divine 
plan of which that house is the outward expression. 
Jehovah has laid the foundation of His kingdom in 
Zion ; but the building upon it must be reared with 
the line of judgement and the plummet of righteous- 
ness. Faith is the condition of tranquil security in 
the midst of danger (xxviii. 16 f.). 

This prophecy is re-echoed in Ps. cxviii. 22 : The 
stone which the builders rejected is become the head of 
the corner. It is fulfilled in Christ, as the personal 
embodiment of the divine purpose, the foundation of 
God's kingdom in the Church. 1 

The necessity and the certainty of judgement on 
the one hand, and the inviolability of Zion on the 
other, form the groundwork of the prophecies of this 
period (xxix. 3 ff.). And beyond the judgement, as 
we have seen, conversion, reformation, pardon, the 
transformation of nature for God's purified people, 
open up a vista of wondrous possibilities. The rule of 
the perfect king is responded to by the nobility of a 
regenerate and instructed people (xxxii. 1 ff.) ; but 
only through judgement will the end be reached, when 

1 See Rom. ix. 33 ; 1 Pet. ii. 6 ff. Cp. Matt. xxi. 42 ; Acts iv. 11. 


the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of 
righteousness quietness and confidence for ever. 

The first series of prophecies presents the promise 
of the personal Messiah, the ideal King. The second 
series assures the permanence of that kingdom which 
is God's means for realising His purpose upon earth. 
The nations. Thus we are brought to the series of prophecies 
relating to the nations. The oracles upon the nations 
are for the most part threatenings of judgement. 
Yet the purpose, generally set forth in ch. ii. 2 ff. and 
ch. xi. 10, shines through in several passages. Moab 
is exhorted to seek the protection of the true king 
who is to sit on David's throne, but Moab's pride 
is a fatal hindrance (xvi. 1 ff.). Isaiah anticipates 
the homage of the Ethiopians to Jehovah when they 
see the judgement fall upon the Assyrians. At that 
time shall a present be brought unto Jehovah of hosts 
of a people tall and smooth, and from a people terrible 
from their beginning onward . . . to the place of the 
name of Jehovah of hosts, the mount Zion (xviii. 7). 

But prophecy reaches its climax when Isaiah looks 
forward to the reconciliation of those bitter foes, 
Egypt and Assyria, with Israel and with one another. 
Israel, the victim of both, becomes the bond which 
unites them. Jehovah shall make Himself known to 
Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that 
day. . . . In that day shall there be a highway 
out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come 
into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria ; and the 


Egyptians shall worship with the Assyrians. In that 
day shall Israel he the third with Egypt and with 
Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth : for that 
Jehovah of hosts hath blessed them, saying, Blessed be 
Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, 
and Israel Mine inheritance (xix. 21, 23 ff.). 

These nations represent the nations of the world ; 
their reconciliation signifies the eventual incorpora- 
tion of even its most deadly enemies in the kingdom 
of God. The prediction can never be literally realised 
for these nations, because they have ceased to exist ; 
but it will yet be realised in that great peace of the 
world, which is the hope of all the nations of 
mankind. 1 

Isaiah's prophecies received signal, if only partial, ^'Wj^ 1 
fulfilment in his own Lifetime. Judgement fell upon P r °P hecies - 
Judah. The coalition of Syria and Ephraim came 
to nothing. Assyria proved to be the real source of 
danger. But Assyria could, not move one step further 
than Jehovah permitted it. When it threatened the 
existence of His people, He interposed, as Isaiah had 
confidently predicted. The deliverance of Jerusalem 
from Sennacherib was the most conspicuous attesta- 
tion of his divine commission. It shewed that the 
Holy One of Israel was in the midst of His people. 
They had not waited for Him in vain. But Isaiah 
seems to have looked forward to that great deliverance 
as the dividing line between the present and the 
1 Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, p. 208. 


future, as the crisis which would usher in the after- 
days for which he looked. He seems to have 
anticipated the Advent of the perfect King and the 
regeneration of the people within a measurable 
distance, if not in his own lifetime. The divine 
purposes were revealed to him, but the time and the 
manner of the accomplishment of those purposes 
were not revealed to him. He saw them from 
afar, yet they seemed to be close at hand, like the 
distant peak which the Alpine traveller sees towering 
majestically into the sky, apparently close beyond the 
grassy slope upon which he stands. Nor need we be 
surprised that it was so. If the closest followers of 
the Lord, at the critical moment when He was about 
to leave them, were warned that it was not for them 
to know times or seasons (Acts i. 7), is it strange that 
such knowledge was withheld from the Old Testament 
seers ? They sought and searched diligently . . . what 
time or wliat manner of time the Spirit of Christ which 
was in them did point unto ; and it was revealed unto 
them, sometimes by the course of events interpreted 
by that Spirit, sometimes doubtless by the direct 
teaching of that Spirit, that their prophecies were 
not for themselves but for a future generation 
(1 Pet. i. 10 ff.). 

All prophecy is conditional, and the realisation 
of the promises with which Isaiah was charged de- 
pended upon the attitude of the people. But not 
even the mighty deliverance which they experienced 


could awaken them to repentance and faith. The 
result was inevitable. The depth of Judah's fall was 
proportionate to the height of grace to which it had 
been raised. Within a very few years after Senna- 
cherib's retreat Hezekiah was succeeded by Manasseh, 
the infamous crimes of whose long reign sealed the 
doom of the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings xxiv. 3 f. ; 
Jer. xv. 4). 

Yet if the accomplishment of Isaiah's prophecies 
did not come in the form or at the time which he 
anticipated, they have not failed to find a true and 
wonderful fulfilment. The teaching of the Gospel 
has gone forth from Zion ; the Incarnate Word of 
the Lord from Jerusalem. To Zion the nations turn 
as the centre and source of their highest hopes. 
Unto us a child is born. The shoot has come forth 
from the stock of Jesse, upon whom the Spirit of 
the Lord rests. While the kingdoms of this world 
have their day and perish, the kingdom of God 
endures. Slowly the purpose of the ages is being 
fulfilled, till in the end He will manifest Himself as 
the Eternal King, supremely exalted, supremely holy. 

Note A. 

Structure op the Book of Isaiah. 

The Book of Isaiah falls into two main divisions. In the 
first of these, chaps, i-xxxix, the great enemy of Israel is 
Assyria : in the second, chaps, xl-lxvi, it is Babylon. It is 


with the first of these divisions only that we are now con- 
cerned. All that can be offered here is a general sketch, 
which does not attempt to deal with minutiae or to solve 
many difficult problems. The dates of many sections cannot 
be determined with certainty, and much diversity of opinion 
prevails with regard to them. 

Chaps, i-xxxix include four distinct books, some at least 
of which shew evident traces of composite origin. They are 
as follows : — 

A. — Chaps, i-xii. This book has a Prologue (ch. i), and 
an Epilogue (ch. xii), and is divided by the account of Isaiah's 
call in ch. vi. 

(1) Ch. i forms a general introduction, setting forth 
Jehovah's care for His people and their ingratitude to Him. 
It cannot be earlier than the time of Ahaz, for the land has 
suffered severely from invasion (vv. 7 ff.), and it may be as late 
as the invasion of Sennacherib ; but on the whole it may best 
be regarded as a call to repentance at the end of the Syro- 
Ephraimite war. 

(2) Chaps, ii-v consist of a continuous discourse (ii. 5- 
iv. 6), prefaced by a quotation from Micah, or some older 
prophet (ii. 2-4), and followed by the parable of the vine- 
yard, with the series of woes appended to it (v). Reproof of 
the sins of Judah and warning of the imminence of judgement 
form the main subject of this division. 

It must belong in the main to the time of Jotham, for 
Judah's prosperity and pride are still unbroken. But one 
or two allusions (iii. 4, 12) make it probable that the dis- 
courses were not committed to writing till after the accession 
of Ahaz ; and the conclusion refers to the Syro-Ephraimite 
invasion, and the yet worse danger of an Assyrian invasion 
looming in the distance (v. 25-30). 

(3) Ch. vi. Isaiah's calL 


(4) Chaps, vii-x. 4 belong to the reign of Ahaz. Ch. vii 
refers to the time when Ahaz was threatened with invasion 
by Pekah and Rezin (b.c. 734). Ch. viii-ix. 7 is a little later, 
after the devastation of Northern Israel (ix. 1), but before the 
fall of Damascus in B.C. 732 (viii. 4). 

Chaps, ix. 8-x. 4 are addressed to the Northern Kingdom, 
when it was beginning to recover from the disasters of the 
Assyrian invasion (vv. 9, 10). Vv. 18 ft', may refer to the 
conspiracy of Hoshea against Pekah. This address is there- 
fore in its proper chronological order here ; and the descrip- 
tion of the miserable reality of the present follows naturally 
upon the picture of the glorious future (ix. 1-7), by the law 
of contrast so often traceable in prophecy. 

(5) Chaps, x. 5— xii open with the prediction that Assyria, 
though employed by Jehovah as His instrument, will be 
punished for its pride. Assyria's power will be destroyed, 
and a kingdom of righteousness established in Zion under 
the perfect King of David's line. The scattered Israelites 
will be restored ; and the thanksgiving song of the redeemed 
forms a fitting epilogue to the book. 1 

Several links seem to connect this section with the 
prophecies of the time of Ahaz. Ch. xi. 1 ff. is the sequel 
of ix. 1 ff . ; x. 20 describes the policy of Ahaz ; x. 21 refers 
to vii. 3, and xi. 13 to ix. 21 ; x. 12, 21 ff. speaks of severe 
judgements as still impending. But x. 9 ff. appears to refer 
to Sargon's conquest of Samaria in B.C. 722, Arpad in 720, 

1 The Isaianic authorship of xi. 10-xii. 6 is denied by Cheyne 
and others. But so far as xi. 10-16 is concerned, the political 
horizon is that of Isaiah's time (vv. 11, 16) ; v. 13 alludes to ix. 
21 ; and the references to the Exodus are quite in Isaiah's manner 
(x. 26 ; cp. iv. 5 ; xxxi. 5). Then ch. xii is intimately connected 
with it. The parallel between the song of the redeemed and Exod. 
xv is unmistakable, so that it forms the natural sequel to xi. 15, 
16. If it is not Isaiah's, it is a very remarkable lyrical compendium 
of his teaching. 


Carchemish in 717. 1 The captivity of the Northern 
Kingdom has taken place (xi. 1 1 ff.\ Hence in its present 
form this section cannot be earlier than the middle of 
Hezekiah's reign, and may be later. But the appropriate- 
ness of its position is obvious. The affirmation of the 
transitoriness of the Assyrian power and the permanence of 
the divine kingdom is needed as a counterpoise to the pre- 
diction that Assyria will be the scourge of Judah (vii. 17 ft'.). 
This collection of prophecies (i-xii) was probably circu- 
lated separately, as forming a symmetrical whole of convenient 

B. — Chaps, xiii-xxvii. — A series of prophecies concerning 
the nations (except ch. xxii). 

Some dates are given or can be fixed with tolerable 
certainty. Ch. xvii. 1-11 appears to be before the Syro- 
Ephraimite invasion ; ch. xiv. 28 ft*, is dated in the death- 
year of Ahaz ; 2 ch. xx belongs to B.C. 711 ; chaps, xviii and 
xxii probably belong to the time of Sennacherib's invasion ; 
ch. xix may be somewhat later. 

The collection contains some non-Isaianic prophecies. 
Chaps, xv, xvi appear to be an older prophecy, reaffirmed 
with a supplement by Isaiah (xvi. 13 f.). Chaps, xiii. 1— xiv. 23 
are ascribed to a prophet of the Exile on the ground 
that the historical situation is not that of Isaiah's time. 
Babylon not Assyria is the mistress of the world and the 

1 Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions, p. 385. 

2 The oracle refers not to the death of Ahaz, but to that of 
Tiglath-Pileser, which happened about the same time (b.c. 727). 
Philistia had suffered from Tiglath-Pileser, who captured Gath, and 
the Philistines would naturally be triumphant at his death. But 
they are warned that his successors would prove even worse enemies. 
In point of fact, Sargon defeated Hanun king of Gaza at Raphia in 
720, and captured Ashdod in 711, while Sennacherib took a tre- 
mendous vengeance on Ashkelon and Ekron in 701. See Schrader 
Cuneiform Inscriptions, pp. 168, 256. 


oppressor of Israel. Babylon is soon (xiii. 22) to be de- 
stroyed, and Israel restored to its own land (xiv. 1 ff.). The 
great apocalypse of judgement and redemption which con- 
cludes the series (xxiv-xxvii) is also thought to bear marks 
of a later age ; and it seems not improbable that this book of 
prophecies concerning the nations was not completed until 
after the return from the Exile, when the concluding chapters 
were written by a disciple of Isaiah, deeply penetrated with 
his spirit, as a finale to the collection. See further in 
Lecture XVI. 

C. — Chaps, xxviii-xxxv. — Chaps, xxviii-xxxiii contain 
a series of prophecies dealing with the relations of Judah 
to Assyria, and in particular with the scheme for throwing 
off the Assyrian yoke by an Egyptian alliance. Ch. xxviii 
opens before, but not long before, the fall of Samaria. Ch. 
xxxiii as plainly refers to Sennacherib's invasion in 701. 
The date of chaps, xxix-xxxi is disputed, but the view that 
they belong to the early years of Hezekiah gives by far the 
most intelligible explanation of their contents (p. 164 ff.). 
Chaps, xxviii-xxxi may have been republished with the 
addition of ch. xxxii, the connexion of which is loose, and 
ch. xxxiii, when events had proved the wisdom of the policy 
they advocate and verified the prophecies they contain. 

Chaps, xxxiv, xxxv appear to be a supplement to this 
collection, added towards the close of the Exile, predicting 
the judgement of the nations and the restoration of Israel. 
They stand to this section in a relation analogous to that of 
chaps, xxiv-xxvii to the preceding section. 

D. — Chaps, xxxvi-xxxix. — A historical section, found also 
in 2 Kings xviii. 13-xx. 19, with some variations. 2 Kings 
xviii. 14-16 is not in Isaiah, and Isa. xxxviii. 9-20 is not in 
Kings. It can hardly in its present form be the work of 
Isaiah, for it brings the history down to b.c. 681 (xxxvii. 
38) ; and the text is in a disturbed condition, e.g. vv. 21, 22 


of ch. xxxviii are out of place. But it is a question whether 
it may not have been derived, mediately or immediately, 
from the chronicle of Hezekiah's reign which Isaiah wrote 
(2 Chron. xxxii. 32). It is appended here, as Jer. lii 
( = 2 Kings xxiv. 18 ff., xxv) is appended to the Book of 

Divisions A, B, C were probably in circulation as separate 
books before they were combined, supplemented by D, and 
finally united in the same great volume with the Book of 
Consolation (xl-lxvi). 



He hath shewed thee, man, what is good; and what doth 
Jehovah require of thee, hut to do justly, and to love mercy, and 
to walk humbly with thy God. — Micah vi. 8. 

Contemporaneously with Isaiah of Jerusalem contrast 
flourished Micah the Morashtite. The two prophets Micahand 


present a remarkable contrast in their origin, their 
training, their sphere of work. They are a striking 
example of the variety of the instruments which God 
chooses for communicating His message and accom- 
plishing His purposes. But, remarkable as are the 
differences between them, the unity of their aims and 
teaching is no less remarkable. It bears witness to 
the identity of the source from which their inspira- 
tion was derived. 

Isaiah, if not actually connected, as some have 
thought, with the royal family, evidently belonged 
to the upper classes. He was the counsellor and 
friend of kings, intimate with priests and nobles 

206 THE CONTRAST lect. 

well acquainted with the various parties of statesmen 
in Judah. He was a native of Jerusalem ; his home 
was in the city ; he was in close touch with the 
national life which centred there. 

Micah was a simple countryman, born of obscure 
parentage, in an otherwise unknown village. His 
father's name is not mentioned. He is only dis- 
tinguished as the Morashtite, or native of Moresheth, 
probably the same as Moresheth -gath (i. 14), a 
village in the lowlands of Judah, 1 some twenty 
miles south-west of Jerusalem. Jerome tells us that 
in his day it still existed as an insignificant village 
near Eleutheropolis. Micah, as his prophecy shews, 
was in closest touch and sympathy with the class of 
yeomen whose wrongs he so graphically describes 
(ii. 1 ff), and to which, in all probability, like Amos, 
he belonged. His love for his country home and its 
surroundings is strikingly indicated in his description 
of the impending judgement (i. 10 ff.). He watches 
the enemy sweeping through the lowland, and seiz- 
ing one village after another. Each familiar name 
seems to contain an omen of destruction, or a call to 
mourning, or a cruel irony of contrast. 

To the countryman the sins of the nation seemed 
to be concentrated in its capitals (i. 5 ; cp. vi. 9). 

1 The Shephelah, or 'lowland' of Judah, was the region of low 
hills between the maritime plain of Philistia and the central high- 
lands of Judah. It was the debatable ground between Israel and 
the Philistines. For a graphic description of the district see G.A. 
Smith's Historical Geography of the Holy Land, ch. x. 


Samaria and Jerusalem are marked out for inevit- 
able destruction. Micah was no politician like Isaiah. 
He nowhere alludes to the appeal to Assyria for 
help which Isaiah stigmatised as the climax of 
worldly faithlessness ; or to the intrigues for alliance 
with Egypt, which Isaiah opposed as equally faithless 
and futile. He does not condemn that blind confi- 
dence in material forces which to Isaiah was one 
of the most significant indications of the national 
spirit, except incidentally and by implication, when 
he classes horses and chariots and fortresses along 
with witchcrafts and images and pillars and Asherim 
as things of which the land will be rid in the 
Messianic age (v. 10 ff). He does not, like Isaiah, 
stand on his prophetic watch-tower and survey the 
nations around, and assign to each its destiny, 
though he sees them sharing in the judgement and 
salvation of the future. His message is to Israel and 
Judah, and indeed in the main to his own country. 
It deals not with matters of state policy and foreign 
alliance, but with the not less vital questions of 
social morality and religious duty ; questions which 
Isaiah by no means ignored, but which Micah treats 
with a vigour and a vividness peculiarly his own ; 
and while he predicts the inevitableness of judge- 
ment for the guilty nation, he predicts the certainty 
of its restoration to fulfil the divine purpose, with 
an unhesitating confidence which bears witness to 
a mind penetrated by a constant conviction of the 

208 MICAH'S SHARE lect. 

faithfulness of Jehovah to His covenant and His 

With all the difference between them in origin 
in education, in environment, in point of view and 
range of survey, Micah and Isaiah are in fundamental 
agreement in their admonitions and instructions for 
the present, and in their hopes for the future. Yet 
in this fundamental agreement the simple country- 
man is charged with a distinctive message, and alike 
in his representation of the character and require- 
ments of God, and in his predictions of the future 
development of the kingdom of God, he supplements 
his unrivalled contemporary. 


Hezekiahs From a notice of unique interest in the Book of 


Hon. Jeremiah (xxvi. 17 ff.) we learn that Hezekiah's 

reformation was due to the preaching of Micah. In 
the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign Jeremiah prophe- 
sied in the most public place and manner that unless 
the people repented, Temple and city would be de- 
stroyed. He was put on trial for his life; and in 
his defence certain elders of the land recalled before 
all the assembly of the people the precedent of Micah, 
and quoted the words of his prophecy against Jeru- 
salem. Micah the Morashtite was prophesying in the 
days ofHezekiah king ofJudah; and he spake to all the 
people of Judah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, 


Zion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall 
become heaps of ruin, arid the mountain of the house as 
the high places of the forest. Did Hezekiah king of 
Judah and all Judah put him at all to death ? Bid he 
not fear Jehovah, and intreat the favour of Jehovah, 
and Jehovah repented Him of the evil which He had 
spoken against them. ? Whereas we are committing great 
evil against our own souls. 

Micah's procedure was probably similar to that of 
Jeremiah. We may imagine him appearing in the 
Temple courts upon some public occasion of fast or 
festival, when the people from every part of Judah 
were assembled at Jerusalem, and there, in the pre- 
sence of king, priests, and people, delivering his 
message. We can picture the amazement succeeded 
by fury with which venal judges and corrupt priests 
and hireling prophets listened to the words of one 
whom no doubt they branded as a fanatic enthusiast. 
7s not Jehovah in the midst of us ? no evil shall come 
upon us, was the comfortable doctrine which they 
approved, appropriating the assurance of Isaiah's 
great watchword Immanuel, while thev ignored the 
warnings which he connected with it. But better 
counsels prevailed. The threat indeed was absolute 
and unconditional ; but God's threatenings, like His 
promises, are conditional; they may be withdrawn 
or suspended ; and upon the repentance of Hezekiah 
and the people the threatened punishment was 
averted. Through the critical period of the Assyrian 



invasions, when the destruction of Jerusalem seemed 
imminent, Isaiah could boldly proclaim that Jehovah'a 
chosen city was inviolable. But Micah's prediction 
remained on record. Its fulfilment was only deferred. 
Length of The reformation of Hezekiah was the culminat- 


ministry. f n g point of Micah's ministry. But there is no 
reason for supposing that his ministry was limited 
to that occasion. The title of his book assigns the 
reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah as the period 
of his activity, nor is there any sufficient ground 
for doubting its accuracy. The social evils which he 
condemns closely resemble those which Isaiah con- 
demns in prophecies unquestionably delivered in the 
reign of Jotham, even if they were not committed to 
writing until after the accession of Ahaz (p. 155 ff.). 
These evils doubtless lasted on into the time of 
Ahaz, and were in some respects aggravated by the 
weak government of that prince, by the calamities of 
war, and by the burdensome taxation necessary in 
order to raise the Assyrian tribute. To this period 
may with much probability be assigned chaps, vi 
and vii. Ahaz abandoned the worship of Jehovah, 
and Jehovah's expostulation with His people implies 
that they were deserting Him (vi. 1 ff.). Ahaz set 
the example of human sacrifice, by causing his son 
to pass through the fire (2 Kings xvi. 3) ; and the 
words which are put into the mouth of the people 
imply that the sacrifice of a firstborn son was regarded 
at the time as the highest form of religious devotion 


(vi. 7). Ahaz walked in the way of the kings of Israel 
(2 Kings xvi. 3), and the indictment against Judah 
culminates in the charge that the statutes of Omri are 
kept, and all the works of the house of Ahao, and ye walk 
in their counsels (vi. 16). The reign of Ahaz, as may- 
be gathered from the hints in the Book of Isaiah, 
was precisely such a time of anarchy and distress 
and dissolution of the bonds of society and of family 
ties as that which is described in ch. vii. 1 

But if the Book of Micah is the record of a pro- 
longed ministry, what relation does it bear to his 
prophecy before Hezekiah ? The analogy of Jere- 
miah's method of procedure is suggestive. Just as 
Jeremiah, by divine command, gathered up the sub- 
stance of more than twenty years of oral teaching, 
and launched it, as a last desperate effort, against 
the unrepentant people of his day, so Micah, but with 
happier results, may have gathered up the substance 
of many years of work, in his harangues to Hezekiah 
and the people of Judah. The substance of his pro- 
phecy upon that occasion is probably preserved to us 
in chaps, i-v, interspersed with those promises of a 
happier future, which can hardly have formed part 
of his public call to repentance, yet doubtless had 
been spoken, or were afterwards spoken, in private, 
for the consolation of the faithful disciples who 
gathered round him. 

1 With ch. vii. 2 cp. Isa. i. 15 b, 21; with vii. 3 cp. Isa. i. 23 ; 
with vii. 4 cp. Isa. x. 3 ; with vii. 5, 6 cp. Isa. iii. 5. 



His message Micah's message is primarily a message of judge- 

of judge- 
ment, merit. Jehovah cometh forth out offfisplace amid awful 

convulsions of nature, which express the terror of His 
advent. It is the transgression of Jacob and the sins 
of the house of Israel which have called Him forth. 
Samaria and Jerusalem are as it were the impersona- 
tion of the nation's guilt (i. 5 ; iii. 12). On them the 
punishment must fall. Samaria must be utterly 
destroyed. With wild shrieks and piteous lamenta- 
tions he bewails its fall. But the calamity does not 
stop there. It sweeps onward to the very gate of 
Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, he exclaims, quoting 
the ancient proverb, weep not in Acco. 1 Let not our 
enemies hear of it lest they mock us ; shew no signs 
of grief before them lest they insult us in our mis- 
fortune. He watches the invading army sweeping 
along the Lowland ; and the familiar names of the 
villages in the neighbourhood of his home each yield 
an omen of calamity. At Beth-le-aphrah, the house 
of dust, he must wallow in the dust as a mourner. 
Shaphir, the fair, is a name of bitter irony for a village 

1 This almost certain emendation (supported by the LXX) re- 
stores the parallelism. Acco was a town from which the Canaan- 
ites were not driven out (Judges i. 31), and it is chosen along with 
Gath, as a representative of places which would rejoice at Israel's 
disaster, for the sake of the paronomasia which the name affords 
with the word for xceep. 


whose inhabitants must pass away into captivity in 
nakedness and shame. Zaanan and Beth-ezel belie 
their names when they do not sally out to repel the 
foe or help their neighbours. Maroth is doomed to 
verify its name by the litterness of disappointed 
hopes. Lachish will have sore need of the 
swift steeds (rechesh) which its name resembles. 
Moresheth-gath suggests the idea of a daughter 
whose mother must give her up with parting presents 
to a husband. Achzib proves but "a summer- 
dried fountain " (achzdb) to those who rely upon it. 
Mareshah (possession) must expect a new possessor. 
Israel's nobles will flee for refuge, like David, to 
the caves of Adullam. Judah must mourn for the 
children in whom she delighted, for they are carried 
away into captivity. 

The prediction of impending judgement is followed The causes 

of tlie jvihji 

by an exposition of its causes. It takes the form of ment. 
a stern denunciation of the offenders whose sins call 
for this judgement. It is offences against the funda- 
mental laws of social morality, breaches of the 
elementary principles of justice and mercy, which 
chiefly provoke Jehovah's wrath. The idolatries of 
Samaria and Jerusalem * are not condoned (i. 5, 7). 
A prominent feature in the Messianic age to which 

1 It is probable that in i. 5 we should follow the LXX, Syr., 
and Targ. in reading (as the parallelism seems to require), what is 
the sin of Judah ? is it not Jerusalem ? for what are the high places 
of Judah ? are they not Jerusalem ? But the idolatries of Judah are 
clearly condemned by implication in v. 10 if. 


Micah looks forward will be the abolition of witch- 
craft and soothsaying, the destruction of graven 
images and pillars and Asherim out of the land (v. 10 
ff.). But these are not the sins upon which he dwells 
in detail. It is the social sins of his time which he 
attacks with the passionate emphasis of one who has 
seen, if not felt, the scourge of the crimes he de- 
nounces, and with the lofty authority of one who is 
full of power by the spirit of Jehovah, and of judgement, 
and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression 
and to Israel his sin (iii. 8). For these he sees no 
remedy but judgement, swift and sharp. 
Principally Foremost among these evils was the formation 

social sins. 

of great estates by the wealthy nobles. Isaiah 
had in general terms pronounced Woe to them that 
join house to house, that annex field to field, till 
there be no room, and ye be left to dwell alone in the 
midst of the land (v. 8). But Micah shews us the 
process in actual operation. We feel that it is no 
fancy picture, but a description of what he had seen 
going on in his own neighbourhood. Woe to them 
that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds! 
when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is 
in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and 
seize them ; and houses, and take them away : and 
they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his 
heritage (ii. 1, 2). We see the unscrupulous magnate 
scheming how he may get the poor but honest owner 
of a few acres into his power, and dispossess him of 


his ancestral land and home. Naboth's vineyard was 
no doubt a typical case. The judges are quite 
ready to do a friendly turn for a powerful neighbour. 
They set both hands to evil to do it thoroughly. The 
prince asketh, and the judge giveth judgement for a 
reward ; and the great man, he uttereth the mischief of 
his sold, and they weave it together (vii. 3). Little do 
they care about the consequences of their heartless 
evictions. What does it matter to them if the women 
of Jehovah's people are cast out from their pleasant 
homes, or young children deprived of their birthright 
in the land of promise, and left to wander forlorn in 
heathen countries? (ii. 9). 

Exacting creditors do the like on a smaller scale. 
Look at yonder man tearing the cloak from the 
shoulders of a fellow-villager in pledge for some debt, 
as ruthlessly as a marauding enemy might do in time 
of war (ii. 8). 1 

The governors and the judges who ought to have 
been the shepherds of Jehovah's flock, fleece and 
devour the sheep which they were set to guard. 
They pluck their skin from off them, and their flesh 
from off their bones ; they eat the flesh of My people ; 

1 It is certain that the Massoretic text of this verse is corrupt. 
My people must mean, as in ii. 9 and iii. 3, the oppressed poor. 
The ingenious corrections of Roorda and Robertson Smith {Prophets 
of Israel, ed. 2, p. 429) must be adopted, which, however, I venture 
to translate somewhat differently thus : But ye are become an 
enemy unto My people : a man riseth up against Mm that is at peace 
with him (cp. Ps. vii. 4) : ye strip off the cloak from tliem that pass 
by securely averse from war. 


and they flay their skin from off them, and break their 
bones ; yea, they chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and 
as flesh within the caldron (iii. 2, 3). 

The people were crushed by oppressive taxation 
as well as by private extortions. They were doubt- 
less often forced to borrow money to pay the taxes, 
and when unable to pay the interest, lost their lands 
by foreclosure. 1 Uzziah and Jotham were great 
builders ; Ahaz had to pay a heavy tribute to Assyria, 
besides repairing his losses by war. As Micah gazed 
upon the modern improvements in Jerusalem, the 
strong fortifications and the stately palaces upon 
which no doubt the nobles congratulated themselves, 
it seemed to him as though they were constructed of 
the lives of men, and cemented with human blood. 
They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with 
iniquity (iii. 10). 

In the darkest period of the prophet's ministry 
an appalling state of social corruption prevailed. It 
was not merely that the strong oppressed the weak. 
Every man's hand was against his neighbour. The 
dictates of natural piety were ignored. The most 
sacred relations of life were violated. No one could 
be trusted. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not con- 
fidence in a familiar friend: keep the doors of thy 
mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son 
dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against 
her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in 

1 Cp. Neh. v. 4, 5. 



law ; a man's enemies are the men of his own house 
(vii. 5, 6). 

Upon this guilty nation judgement must fall. The judge- 
Those who had forcibly dispossessed others must 
themselves in turn be dispossessed by force. Those 
who had banished their fellow-countrymen from 
their rightful inheritance must see their ill-gotten 
estates partitioned by the conqueror. The splendid 
buildings of Jerusalem, which to the prophet's eye 
were so many monuments of oppression, must be 
levelled to the ground. The Temple in which they 
trusted must become an overgrown ruin. The people 
must be scattered as exiles in a foreign land. The 
land which had been promised them as a rest and an 
inheritance could be no resting-place to those who so 
misused it. They must be driven out, even as the 
Canaanites were driven out before them, because they 
have polluted the land, till it can bear them no 
longer. 1 Up and begone ! for this is not your rest : 
because of uncleanness shall ye be destroyed? even with 
grievous destruction (ii. 10). 


But beyond this time of distress, dispersion, and Prophecies 

..,.., , „ . of restora- 

humiliation, dawns the sure hope of restoration, re- tion. 
union, and glorification. Israel must be scattered ; 

1 With ii. 10 cp. Deut. xii. 9, etc. ; Lev. xviii. 25. 

2 So the LXX. The variation may be one of vowel points only ; 
lit. shaJt thou be destroyed. 


but Jehovah will once more gather His flock ; and 
though, as Isaiah had prophesied, it is only a remnant 
that will return, it will represent the whole nation. 
Led by their king, they will march forth from the 
prison of exile ; yea, Jehovah Himself will go before 
them as at the Exodus (Exod. xiii. 21). In few but 
graphic words the prophet describes that triumphal 
progress. The breaker is gone up before them : they 
have broken forth and passed on to the gate, and are 
gone out thereat: and their king is passed on before 
them, and Jehovah at the head of them (ii. 13). 1 

The ideal of the theocracy will be realised. 
Jehovah shall reign over them in mount Zion from 
henceforth even for ever (iv. 7). A prince of the house 
of David will rule over a reunited Israel as His ap- 
pointed representative. He springs from Bethlehem, 
the ancient home of David, not from Jerusalem, the 
seat of his kingdom ; for the kingdom has passed 
away, and the family of David has returned to its 

1 This passage is certainly not (1) a threat that Israel will be 
driven to take refuge in fortresses, and to flee before their enemies ; 
nor (2) a specimen of the false prophets' teaching, for it presup- 
poses the disasters which they denied would happen ; but (3) a 
promise of restoration, which is intended as an answer to those 
who complain that Jehovah's prophet has no message but of judge- 
ment (ii. 6, 7), and in which Jehovah's care for His flock forms a 
contrast to the description of the false shepherds which follows in 
chap. iii. 1 ff. See Note A, pp. 229 ff. The breaker may be used 
in a collective sense for the advance guard of the army which clears 
a way for the passage of the main body. If it denotes an individual 
leader, he is distinguished from the Messianic king. See Driver iu 
The Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. v, pp. 263 ff. 


primitive obscurity in one of the most insignificant 
villages of Judah. Yet he it is for whom the divine 
purpose has been preparing, and to whom the word 
of prophecy has been pointing, from ancient times. 
He shall be Peace ; the pledge and giver of security. 
He — such is the limitation of Micah's language, fore- 
shortening the course of events, and speaking in 
terms adapted to the nation's present need — will 
gather round him an abundance of able leaders to 
repel the Assyrian invader, nay, to carry the war 
back into the enemy's country. 1 

To the nations which submit Zion will be a 
beneficent quickening power, as dew from Jehovah, 
as showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, 
nor waitethfor the sons of men (v. 7). For Zion will 
be the teacher of the nations, and the centre of a 
world-wide worship. From Zion shall go forth instruc- 
tion, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Zion's 
God will arbitrate between the nations, and establish 
universal peace (iv. 1 ff.). 

But to those who resist Zion will be as a lion 
among the beasts of the forest. When the nations 
gather for one final effort to destroy the city of 
God, Zion will be triumphantly victorious. They 
know not the thoughts of Jehovah, neither understand 
they His counsel : for He hath gathered them as the 
sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, 
daughter of Zion : for I will make thine horn iron, 

1 See Note B, p. 235. 


and I will make thy hoofs brass : and thou shalt beat 
in pieces many peoples : and thou shalt devote their gain 
unto Jehovah, and their substance unto the Lord of the 
whole earth (iv. 12, 13). Divine vengeance will be 
executed upon the nations which will not hearken. 
The kingdom of God will be established in peace 
and righteousness. 1 

Perhaps we do wrong to attempt to range the 
prophecies of Micah in an order of succession. 
Different visions of the future present themselves 
to his mental eye. 2 He does not accurately dis- 
tinguish the order in which the events were to occur ; 
still less does he indicate the intervals of time which 
were to separate them. His prophecies were never 
intended to be a chronological chart of the history of 
the future. 

But the leading ideas of his prophecy are the 
regeneration of Israel through j udgement ; the estab- 
lishment of the kingdom of Jehovah under the ideal 
king of David's line ; the evangelisation of the nations 
through that kingdom. In the main they are the 
same as those of Isaiah. The prophet of the court 
and the prophet of the people are in fundamental 
agreement. Micah indeed predicts the destruction 
of Jerusalem, while Isaiah, except in one isolated 

1 The double aspect) of Israel to the nations as a blessing and a 
terror (v. 7, 8) is parallel to and is illustrated by the fuller pro- 
phecies of iv. 1 ff., 11 ff. 

2 Now in iv. 9 denotes a different present from now in iv. 11 : 
while v. 1 reverts to the time of iv. 9. See Note A, p. 233. 


passage (xxxii. 13, 14), predicts its preservation. 
The judgement which was ultimately to fall was 
averted for the time. Micah also goes further than 
Isaiah, in predicting the birth of the Messiah in 
Bethlehem. The significance of that prophecy in its 
original context lies, as we have seen, in its suggestion 
of the circumstances under which the Messiah was to 
be born, rather than in the prediction of the precise 
place of His birth ; but its literal fulfilment was one 
of those signs connected with the birth of Jesus 
which were unmistakably significant alike to the 
simple and to the learned. 

In connexion with the circumstances of their own 
time, in part under the forms and limitations of that 
time, Micah and Isaiah expressed the sure purpose 
of God towards His people and the world. Those 
purposes have been accomplished and are still being 
accomplished, not with the rigid literalism demanded 
by a mechanical theory of prophecy, but with a true 
fulfilment, which witnesses to the progress of divine 
purpose which is gradually being revealed to the 

These predictions of a nobler age to come stood in The/ais» 


a close and important relation to Micah's preaching 
to his contemporaries. They were a consolation to 
the faithful, and a rebuke to the careless. They 
were one of the weapons in his hand in the conflict 
which he had to wage with false prophets. For now 
for the first time we get a clear view of a popular 


party of false prophets opposed to the true and 
faithful messengers of Jehovah. Isaiah refers to 
prophets who teach lies, to leaders who are mis- 
leaders, to prophets who are swallowed up of wine 
and have gone astray through strong drink (ix. 15, 16 ; 
xxviii. 7). But in Micah their character and their 
practices are depicted with more definiteness. They 
pandered to the sensual lusts of the people, and were 
welcomed by them accordingly (ii. 11). They de- 
manded payment for their prophecies, and, provided 
that their clients rewarded them with proper liberality, 
they were always ready with a cry of Peace ! while they 
unsparingly attacked those who refused to comply 
with their demands. These were the men who lulled 
the people into an easy security by the perversion 
of Isaiah's doctrine of Immanuel, reiterating as their 
watchword, Is not Jehovah in the midst of us ? no evil 
shall come upon us (iii. 5, ll). 1 The essential differ- 
ence between Micah and these men was the moral 
character of his mission. This was the proof of true 
inspiration. / am full of power by the spirit of 
Jehovah, and of judgement, and of might, to declare 

1 According to the R.V. ch. ii. 6, Prophesy ye not, thus they 
prophesy, refers to the attempt of the false prophets to silence the 
true prophets. But I am inclined to think that this verse is a 
dialogue between Micah and the nobles whom he is censuring. 
Prophesy ye not, say the nobles to Micah and his fellow-prophets. 
They shall prophesy, is his emphatic answer. At any rate, retort 
the nobles, they shall not prophesy concerning these things, reproving 
our conduct and predicting our exile. Disgrace, answers Micah, 
shall not he averted, your fate is certain (or perhaps, rebukes shall 
not cease, the prophets cannot be silenced). Cp. Lsa. xxx. 10 f. 


unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin 
(iii. 8). 

But it was an indispensable part of his message, 
that while these false prophets were preaching their 
delusive message of peace, and taunting him with 
being a prophet of evil only, he should proclaim that 
Jehovah's purposes towards His people were good and 
not evil (ii. 7), and should promise the realisation of 
Israel's destiny, even if it could only be accomplished 
through judgement. 

But to return to the consideration of Micah's Popular 

and pro- 
moral and religious teaching. One of the most poetic views 

° of religion 

remarkable passages in the whole book is that in 
ch. vi, 1 in which the false popular view of Jehovah 
and His requirements is placed in sharp contrast 
with His real character and demands. Jehovah 
institutes a trial between Himself and His people. 
He pleads His own cause. It is assumed that 
mutual obligations existed between them. Has He 
imposed burdensome conditions, or failed to fulfil 
His obligations, that they have deserted Him? 

Nay surely ! He appeals to the testimony of his- 
tory. He had redeemed them from the bondage 
of Egypt. He had given them leaders. He had 
confounded the malice of their enemies, and brought 

1 On the authorship of chaps, vi, vii see Note A, p. 233. 


them safely across the Jordan. 1 In all His dealings 
with them He had demonstrated His righteousness, 
His faithful performance of His side of the covenant. 

The voice of the people is heard in answer, inquir- 
ing how Jehovah may successfully be propitiated, 
and suggesting what they are ready to offer. 

Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow my- 
self down unto God on high ? shall I come before Sim 
vjith burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? will 
Jehovah accept thousands of rams, myriads of rivers of 
oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the 
fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? (vi. 6, 7). 

The speaker evidently represents the popular idea 
of the essentials of religion. 2 He regards Jehovah 
as other nations regarded their gods, as a despot who 
requires to be propitiated by material offerings, and 
can be propitiated by them, provided they are suffi- 
ciently large and costly. He is ready to go all 
lengths. He will not be behind the Phoenician or 
the Cauaanite. He will offer a sacrifice of his nearest 
and dearest. But as the prophet's answer shews, 
he has no conception of the moral requirements of 

1 Remember from Shittim unto Gilgal means 'remember all that 
happened from Shittim, the last station on the east of Jordan, to 
Gilgal, the first station on the west.' 

2 Bishop Butler (Serm. viii) take9 vv. 6, 7 to be Balak's words, 
and v. 8 to be Balaam's answer. It would be scarcely worth while 
to mention this interpretation, which destroys the whole signifi- 
cance of the passage, had not Dean Stanley given it currency in 
his Lectures on the Jewish Church (Lect. viii, vol. i, p. 163). 


In sharp contrast to the people's lavish offer is the 
prophet's simple answer, He hath declared to thee, 
man, what is good : and what doth Jehovah require 
of thee, save doing judgement, and loving mercy, and 
walking humbly with thy God ? (vi. 8). 

Doing judgement : seeing that each and all have 
their just rights ; the foundation of society, and yet 
the very thing of which there was an utter lack in 
Micah's time. The rulers whose duty it was to know 
judgement abhorred it and perverted all equity (iii. 
1, 9). Sternly Jehovah challenges the people : Are 
there yet treasures of wickedness in the house of the 
wicked, and the scant measure which is abominable ? 
and in reply the voice of the offender 1 is heard 
parleying with himself whether he may not "be 
pardoned and retain the offence " : — Can I be clean 
with wicked balances, and with a bag of deceitful 
weights? (vi. 10, 11). 

But justice is not the whole of man's duty to his 
neighbour. Mercy or lovingkindness is nobler than 
justice. But mercy must not be strained, and 
stinted, and grudging. Accordingly God's second 
demand is loving mercy; not merely to shew it, 
but to love it. No doubt there were not a few 
among the wealthy nobles of Micah's day who prided 
themselves on not being guilty of injustice. Yes ! 

1 So the Hebrew text. But it is very doubtful whether we 

ought not to read, with the LXX, Targ., and Syr., Shall a man be 

clean, etc., or (cp. Vulg.) Shall I count him clean, etc., making v. 11 

the continuation of God's speech in v. 10. For clean cp. Isa. i. 16. 



perhaps they were entirely within their legal rights 
when they seized the land of some poor neighbour 
who through bad seasons and misfortune and 
pressure of heavy taxes had failed to pay his debts 
and fallen into their power. But was conduct like 
that brotherly ? Nay, there was the higher duty of 
loving mercy. And how utterly destitute of the love 
of mercy was that state of society in which every 
man's hand was against his neighbour, and none 
could trust another (vii. 1-6). 

And what does God require in respect of duty 
towards Himself? What but walking humbly with 
thy God ? A life of fellowship with God implying 
an identity of will and purpose ; but fellowship con- 
ditioned by that spirit of humility which must ever 
govern the intercourse of weak and sinful man with 
a perfect and infinite God. What a contrast to the 
temper of the proud self-satisfied magnates of 
Jerusalem, clouded in the conceit of their own 
power, infatuated by the supposed security of the 
privileges which they abused. 

In this simple but comprehensive summary of 
man's duty to his neighbour and to God, Micah 
takes up and combines the teaching of his pre- 
decessors and his great contemporary. Amos had 
insisted upon the paramount necessity of civil 
justice: Hosea had proclaimed that it was not 
sacrifice but lovingkindness that God desired : one 
of the prominent doctrines of Isaiah was the majesty 


of Jehovah, to which reverent humility on man's 
part is the fitting correlative. 

Simple as are Jehovah's requirements, Micah has 
little expectation that the nation as a whole will 
conform to them. Their ingrained selfishness and 
inveterate corruption forbid the hope. Nothing but 
the sternest discipline of punishment can avail to 
reform that guilty people. There are few more 
touching utterances in the whole range of prophecy 
than the closing passage of the book. The prophet 
speaks in the name of the true Israel, the nucleus 
of faithful souls which existed in the midst of the 
unfaithful mass, the holy seed which was to preserve 
the life of Israel. Sorrowfully he confesses the 
widespread and deep-seated depravity which pre- 
vails (vii. 1-6) ; and then he turns to contemplate 
the future. In faith and patience he will watch and 
wait. With humble resignation he accepts the just 
punishment of the nation's sin, sure that the dawn 
must follow the darkness. I will bear the indignation 
of Jehovah, because I have sinned against Him ; until 
He plead my cause, and execute judgement for me : He 
will bring me forth to the light, I shall behold His 
righteousness. Nor is that confidence misplaced. 
Addressing Zion Jehovah 1 proclaims the decree for 
its restoration. A day for building thy fences ! in 
that day shall the boundary be remote ! 2 The land 

1 It seems best to regard Jehovah as the speaker, as in v. 15 ; 
but it may be the prophet himself. 

a Fences, not walls; the figure of the vineyard underlies the 


will be large enough for all the exiles who crowd 
into it from the lands of their dispersion. But even 
across that bright vision of the future passes a cloud. 
Judgement must precede redemption. The land 
shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, 
for the fruit of their doings (vii. 13). 

Hope turns into prayer. Feed Thy people with Thy 
rod, the flock of thine heritage . . . let them feed in 
Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. And 
Jehovah makes answer that He will deliver them 
from exile as He did from Egypt. As in the days of 
thy coming forth out of the land of Egypt will I shew 
unto him marvellous things. Once more the nations 
will behold and tremble. 1 When they see the mani- 
festation of Jehovah's power on behalf of His people, 
they will humbly pay Him homage. 

Man's perversity may delay but it cannot frustrate 
God's purposes. He will yet find a way to pardon, 
and not only to pardon, but to remove, the iniquity 
of His people. The oath which He sware to the 
forefathers of the nation cannot be broken. Who is 
a God like unto Thee, concludes Micah, with a 
reminiscence of the Song of Moses, and an allusion 
to the meaning of his own name, 2 forgiving iniquity 

expression, cp. Isa. v. 5 ; Ps. lxxx. 12 ; lxxxix. 40. In that day 
the boundaries of the land will be extended ; cp. a far -stretching 
land, lit. a land of far distances, Isa. xxxiii. 17. 

1 Cp. Exod. xv. 14 ff. 

2 Micah = Who is like Jehovah? Cp. Exod. xv. 11 ; and for the 
following words, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. 


and passing over transgression for the remnant of His 
heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, be- 
cause He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again and 
have compassion upon tis ; He will subdue our iniqui- 
ties, as He subdued the Canaanites before us ; yea, 
Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, 
as Thou didst overwhelm the Egyptians in the Eed 
Sea. 1 Thou wilt shew Thy faithfulness to Jacob, and 
Thy mercy to Abraham, which Thou didst swear unto 
our fathers from the days of old. 2 

Note A. 
Contents and Integrity of the Book op Micah. 

The Book of Micah falls into three divisions. 

A. — Chaps, i, ii. 

(1) Jehovah is about to appear to judge Israel for its sins 
(i. 2-5). Samaria will be utterly destroyed (6, 7) ; the wave 
of calamity will sweep onward to Jerusalem (8, 9). One 
town after another in the Lowland will be overwhelmed by 
it (10-16). 

(2) Woe to the proud nobles of Judah, whose deeds of 
violence demand this punishment. They would fain silence 
true prophets, and listen to false prophets, but as they have 
driven their victims from their homes, so will they be driven 
out into exile themselves (ii. 1-11). 

(3) Yet the scattered flock of Israel will one day be 
gathered, and go forth from captivity in a second Exodus 
(ii. 12, 13). 

1 See Joshua xviii. 1, etc. ; Exod. xv. 5. 

2 Cp. Gen. xxii. 16 fF. ; xxviii. 13 f. ; Exod. xiii. 5, 11 ; xxxii. 13. 

230 CONTENTS OF lect. 

B. — Chaps, iii-v. 

(1) Censure of the rulers, prophets, and priests, for abuse 
of their offices. They are the cause of Jerusalem's impend- 
ing destruction (ILL 1-12). 

(2) Yet in the latter days Jerusalem will be the centre of 
instruction for the world (iv. 1-5). The scattered flock will 
be gathered ; the eternal reign of Jehovah inaugurated ; the 
Davidic kingdom restored (6-8). 

(3) In the immediate future humiliation and exile are in 
store for Zion (9, 10) ; yet ultimately she will be victorious 
over the nations which muster to destroy her (11-13). 

(4) Israel must be reduced to extremity, and her ruler 
subjected to gross insult (v. 1) ; but from Bethlehem will 
come forth a king of David's house, to rule over a reunited 
nation, and repel the Assyrian invader (v. 2-6). To some 
Israel will be a source of blessing (7), to others a destructive 
foe (8, 9). Israel will be purified, and vengeance executed 
upon the obdurate nations (10-15). 

C. — Chaps, vi, viL 

(1) From that ideal future the prophecy turns to the sad 
contrast of the present. The people are addressed. Jehovah 
is dramatically represented as commencing a suit with Israel. 
He defends His faithfulness to His side of the covenant, and 
contrasts His real demands with the popular idea of religion 
(vi. 1-8). 

(2) The wilful disregard of these requirements calls for 
punishment (9-16). 

(3) The prophet speaks in the name of the true Israel, 
lamenting the universal corruption (vii. 1-6), and expressing 
its determination humbly to bear the punishment ; in perfect 


confidence that Jehovah will one day vindicate His righteous- 
ness (7-10). In answer is heard the divine proclamation for 
Zion's restoration (11-13). 

(4) The prophet prays for this restoration, and Jehovah 
promises to bring it about (14-17). He concludes with an 
expression of perfect trust in the pardoning mercy and un- 
changing faithfulness of Jehovah (18-20). 

Each of the three main divisions begins with rebuke and 
threatening, introduced by an emphatic Hear ye ; and each 
ends with promise and hope. 

I have given this somewhat full analysis with the 
object of shewing that the book is not the disconnected col- 
lection of fragments or the patchwork of interpolations 
which it is sometimes represented as being. It must be re- 
membered that in all probability it consists of discourses 
delivered on various occasions and under different circum- 
stances. The transitions are no doubt more than usually 
abrupt. Connexions and contrasts of thought are not ex- 
pressed. It is left to the reader's intelligence to supply them. 
But they are, I believe, to be discerned. The question for 
the student is not (as it is so often misleadingly put) whether 
the sequence of ideas is " what we should expect," but whether 
it admits of explanation. Now just as in the Hebrew lan- 
guage co-ordination is common where Western languages 
would use subordination, so in the prophetic books two con- 
ceptions or two descriptions are frequently compared or 
contrasted without any definite statement of the relation in 
which they stand to each other. 

Let us apply this principle to Micah. 

(1) Ch. ii. 12, 13 is said by some, who admit that it 
may be Micah's, to stand in no logical connexion with the 
context : by others it is set down as an exilic interpolation. 
The connexion is certainly loose, and the prophecy of restora- 

232 INTEGRITY OF lect 

tion presumes that Israel will go into exile. But so does the 
preceding admittedly genuine prophecy (vv. 3-5, 10) ; and 
nothing in vv. 12, 13 presumes that the exile is a present 
fact. Now, on the principle suggested above, is there any- 
thing unreasonable in the bare addition of a prediction of 
restoration to a prediction of exile ? There is, however, a 
link of connexion. The true prophets were attacked for 
prophesying evil (vv. 6, 7). Micah will shew that he too can 
prophesy good as the ultimate purpose of Jehovah towards 
His people. Nor is a link of connexion with iii. 1 ff. want- 
ing. The treatment of Jehovah's flock by their shepherds 
which is there described presents a striking contrast to His 
own care of them in the future which is promised in 
ii. 12, 13. 1 

(2) Again, chaps, iv, v are supposed by some critics to 
be a composite work. Stade (Z.A.T.W. i. 165 ff.) regards 
the whole as exilic or post-exilic, but thinks that iv. 1-4, 
iv. 11-v. 4, v. 7-15 form a continuous whole, into which 
iv. 5-10 and v. 5, 6 were inserted still later. Kuenen 
allows that part may be Micah's, but holds that at any rate 
iv. 6-8, 11-13, and the present form of v. 10-15, are due 
to an exilic or post-exilic hand. Two questions arise : (a) Do 
these passages contain ideas which are inconsistent with what 
we know of the prophets of the eighth century? and (b) Is the 
want of connexion such as to prove that the whole passage 
cannot be the work of the same author 1 

(a) With regard to iv. 6-8 the remarks already made 
on ii. 12, 13 will apply. It is presumed that the Exile 
will take place, but not that it is a present fact. That the 
assault of many nations upon Zion (iv. 1 1 ff.) is not a pre- 
exilic idea cannot be maintained. Isa. xxix. 1-8 is a sufficient 

1 It should be noticed how the conception of the people as a 
flock runs through the whole book. See ii. 12 ; iii. 1 ff. ; iv. 6, 8 ; 
v. 4 ; vii. 14. 


(b) The disjointed character of the passage is no sufficient 
argument against unity of authorship. It presents a series of 
pictures of the destiny of Zion, arranged by contrast or con- 
nexion of thought, not in chronological succession. Zion's 
exaltation (iv. 1-5) is the contrast to its destruction (iii. 12): 
that exaltation involves the gathering of the people (iv. 6-8) 
whose dispersion has been predicted (ii. 3 If., 10). To that 
dispersion the prophet then reverts (iv. 9, 10) ; but again 
glancing forward into the distant future foresees the nations 
gathering against Zion to their own destruction (iv. 11-13). 1 
Once more he reverts to the idea of the humiliation (v. 1) 
which will precede the advent of the Messianic king, for 
which he looks within the period of the Assyrian troubles 
(iv. 2-6). Then once more he looks forward into the future 
of redemption. Israel's double relation to the nations is 
parallel to what has preceded ; v. 7 corresponds to iv. 1 ff. ; 
v. 8, 9 to iv. 11-13. That the outlook should conclude 
with the purification of Israel and the judgement of the 
nations needs no explanation. 

(3) The difference between chaps, vi, vii and chaps, i-v 
in style and character, and to a certain extent, in the circum- 
stances presumed, is remarkable, and has led to the very 
general acceptance of Ewald's view, that these two chapters 
are the work of another prophet in the reign of Manasseh. 
No doubt this hypothesis is plausible ; but that the differ- 
ence of style is incompatible with unity of authorship is by 
no means certain. There is nothing in the contents of the 
passage which might not have been written by Micah him- 
self, and the difference of environment may be accounted for 

1 Now in iv. 9 refers to a time different from and now in v. 11. 
The first is a present anterior to the Exile, the second subsequent to 
it. Now in v. 1 reverts to the present of iv. 9. That the Hebrew 
word for now may be so used of an assumed present is clear from 
iv. 7, where from now {K.Y . from henceforth) refers to an assumed 
present in the time of the restoration. 


if it was written either in the time of Ahaz, or in the reign 
of Manasseh, into which Micah may easily have survived. 
Some reasons for connecting it with the reign of Ahaz have 
been pointed out above (p. 210 f.). Chap, vi at any rate is 
a piece of public preaching, which is more likely to belong 
to the time of Ahaz than to that of Manasseh, when true 
prophets were silenced. The message to the city (vi. 9) is 
entirely in Micah's spirit (p. 206), and the allusion to his 
name (vii. 18) quite in the style of the author of ch. i. 

More recent criticism assigns vii. 7-20 to the Exile, and 
affirms that there is a gap of a century between vii. 6 and 
viL 7 ff. But in its dramatic style the passage has a strong 
bond of connexion with vi. 1-vii. 6 : it refers not to the Baby- 
lonian but to the Assyrian exile (vii. 1 2), and to the Assyrian 
ravages of the Northern Kingdom (vii. 14) : some conclusion 
is certainly needed to vi. 1-vii. 6, which can hardly have 
ended abruptly with v. 6. The remarks already made on 
ii. 1 2 f., iv. 6 ff. apply here. The captivity is presumed as an 
event that will happen, not described as a present fact 
There seems to be nothing in the passage which might not 
be the work of a prophet who knew that the Exile must 
happen, and had before his eyes the first captivity of 
Northern Israel or possibly the destruction of that kingdom. 
The position of chaps, vi, vii at the end of the book is not 
decisive against a date in the reign of Ahaz ; for they form 
a separate work, and could be placed in no more suitable 

I have treated this remarkable prophecy as part of the 
writings of Micah, and assigned it to the reign of Ahaz. At 
the same time I feel that the arguments in favour of a later 
date, under Manasseh, have considerable weight, and that the 
possibility that it proceeds from a different author must be 

NOTE ON MICAH V. 2-6 235 

Note B. 

A brief note is all that can be given upon some of many 
points of difficulty and interest in ch. v. 2-6. The English 
reader is liable to miss the connexion of v. 2 with iv. 8. 
The word rendered ruler is from the same root as that ren- 
dered dominion. This ruler will exercise the former rule. 
But what is meant by whose goings forth are from ancient 
time, from the days of old ? Goings forth (or comings forth) is 
from the same root as shall come forth in the same verse, and 
must be explained accordingly. From ancient time, from the 
days of old, is illustrated by vii. 20, days of ancient time, and 
vii. 14, days of old. The words can hardly describe the 
eternal pre-existence of the Messianic king, or his manifesta- 
tion from time to time in the course of history ; for these 
ideas, though in the light of the fulfilment they may be 
seen to be included in the words, hardly come within the 
range of Old Testament prophecy. Bather they describe 
the coming forth of the Messianic king as included from 
ancient time in the divine purpose which is made known 
through the prophets. Cp. Isa. xxii. 11 ; xxxvii. 26. 

She which travaileth (v. 3) is very commonly interpreted of 
the mother of the Messiah. But the comparison of ch. iv. 
9, 10 makes it certain that the nation is this travailing 
woman. Jehovah will give up His people to their enemies 
until the nation has brought forth its new offspring of be- 
lievers. Cp. Isa. lxvi. 7-9. The following clause (v. 3 b) 
seems to refer to the reunion of the divided nation in the 
return from exile, which is a constant feature in the pro- 
phetic outlook. 

Vv. 5, 6 are parenthetical : v. 7 is the sequel of v. 4 
Isaiah connects the coming of the Messiah with the -restora- 
tion of the exiles (ch. xi) ; Micah more distinctly brings 
it into connexion with the needs of his own time. It is a 
striking instance of the limitations of prophecy. 



Multa in Scripturis Sanctis dicuntur iuxta opinionem 
lllius teraporis quo gesta referuntur et non iuxta quod rei 
Veritas continebat. 

Many things are described in Holy Scripture according 
to the opinion of the time at which they are recorded to 
have happened, and not in accordance with the inward truth 
of the fact. 

S. Hieronymus. 



Jehovah is a jealous God and an avenger ; Jehovah is an avenger 
and full of wrath; Jehovah is an avenger unto His adversaries, and 
He reserveth wrath for His enemies. — Nahum i. 2. 

The last half-century of the kingdom of Judah was Events 
an age of change and convulsion throughout Western last haif- 

00 ° century of 

Asia. As the prophets surveyed the nations around, f/j^'l"™ 
or contemplated the internal condition of the kingdom 
of Judah, they could not fail to see that the day 
of the Lord was at hand ; — " one of those crises or 
turning-points in the history of the world at which 
God Himself interposes, revealing Himself as all that 
He is, and bringing to an end openly all the work 
which in more hidden ways He has been performing 
from the beginning." 1 

That eventful half-century saw the ruin of the 
great empire of Assyria, founded on violence and 
built up by bloodshed : it saw the rise in its place of 

1 A. B. Davidson in The Expositor, 3rd Ser. vol. vii, p. 207. 

240 THE PROPHETS lect. 

the Chaldean empire, sweeping all before it in an 
irresistible tide of conquest. For a moment it seemed 
uncertain whether the seat of the supremacy of 
Western Asia would be upon the Nile or the Eu- 
phrates, but the decisive battle of Carchemish (B.C. 605) 
annihilated the hopes of Egypt, and gave Babylon 
the sovereignty of the nations for three-quarters of a 
century. That half-century saw the invasion of the 
Scythians, an event which was for the time as 
momentous and appalling to the ancient monarchies 
of Asia as the invasions of the Goths and Vandals 
were to the Eoman empire. Bursting forth from 
behind their mountain barriers in the dark mysteri- 
ous North, these savage hordes of barbarians poured 
down upon the ancient seats of luxury and civilisa- 
tion, spreading terror as they moved. They pene- 
trated to the borders of Egypt, where Psammetichus 
the king of Egypt met them, and only dissuaded 
them from advancing further by prayers and gifts. 
For twenty-eight years, so Herodotus tells us, they 
held sway in Western Asia, and turned everything 
upside down by their overbearing insolence and un- 
restrained plunderings. 1 

Such distress of nations with perplexity . . men's 
hearts failing them for fear, was the spectacle which 
the prophets of Judah beheld all around them. At 

1 Herodotus, i. 105, 106. Comp. Grote's History of Greece, vol. 
ii. ch. xvii. The precise time is uncertain, but it falls within 
the period B.C. 640-607. 


home the prospect was not more hopeful. For a 
brief time indeed it may have seemed that the refor- 
mation effected by King Josiah gave promise of new 
life for Judah ; but deeper prophetic insight saw 
only too plainly that it was but superficial and 
temporary; that the great day of Jehovah was at 
hand for Judah, and that the deserved chastisement 
of her sins could no longer be deferred. It became 
more and more evident that God's purposes for His 
people could only be accomplished by means of the 
purifying fires of judgement. 

Four of the prophets whose writings have come Prophets 

of this 

down to us belong to this period, Nahum, Habakkuk, period. 
Zephaniah, and Jeremiah ; and Ezekiel, though he 
occupies a somewhat different position, may be con- 
veniently annexed to it. Nahum was probably the 
earliest. The possible limits for the date of his 
prophecy are from B.C. 660 to B.C. 607 ; but we shall 
not be far wrong in placing him about the middle of 
this period, soon after B.C. 640. Zephaniah pro- 
phesied in the reign of Josiah, probably in the earlier 
part of it, while the great reformation was in progress. 
Habakkuk may have delivered his message in the 
same reign, but there are good grounds for placing 
him in the early years of Josiah's son and (after the 
brief interval of the reign of Jehoahaz) successor 
Jehoiakim, about B.C. 610-607. 

Jeremiah's long ministry extended over nearly 
half a century, from the thirteenth year of Josiah 

242 THE PROPHETS lect. 

(b.c. 627) till some years after the fall of Jerusalem. 
Thus Zephaniah and Habakkuk were his contem- 
poraries, while Nahum may have flourished a few 
years earlier. 
Their char- Each of these four prophets had a distinct message 


to deliver, and each delivered it in his own character- 
istic style. Nahum pronounced the doom of the 
oppressor, and interpreted the impending ruin of 
Nineveh as a revelation of the righteous vengeance 
of God. 

Zephaniah, like Nahum, is a herald of judgement, 
but it is a universal judgement on the world, and, 
above all, on the chosen people of God. But he 
looks beyond the judgement, and shews that it is 
God's means for universal redemption, of His own 
people first, and then of the nations. 

Habakkuk, perplexed with obstinate questionings, 
troubled with doubts as to the justice of the mys- 
terious ways of divine Providence when he beholds 
violence succeeding violence in the cataclysm of the 
nations, boldly challenges God to defend His actions, 
and teaches the lessons of patience, constancy, and 
faith, which he was taught himself in answer to his 

Jeremiah stands in the midst of a doomed and 
obdurate nation, the most tragic figure in the history 
of Israel, the martyr prophet, bearing the iniquity of 
his people. He proclaims with equal distinctness 
the imminent ruin of that guilty people, and the rise 


out of that ruin of a kingdom of righteousness, and 
the establishment of a New Covenant. 

Each prophet had his special gift for his particular 
work. Nahum bears the palm for poetic power. 
His short book is a Pindaric ode of triumph over 
the oppressor's fall, stern, vindictive if you will, but 
springing out of a deep satisfaction at this proof of 
the sovereignty of righteousness, this testimony to 
the moral government of Jehovah among the nations 
of the world. 

Zephaniah is the orator of plain straightforward 
speech, severe and uncompromising in his denuncia- 
tion of the sins of his countrymen. 

Habakkuk has a philosophic mind, which would 
fain understand the enigma of the world. The 
dramatic form of his book is noteworthy, and its 
appeal to the imagination not less than the reason is 
characteristic and instructive. 

Jeremiah is distinguished by his intense humanity. 
He attracts our sympathy by his unique life of suffer- 
ing. A man of no great intellectual power (as we 
should say) as poet, orator, or philosopher ; naturally 
shy, retiring, and tender-hearted ; he is pre-eminent 
among those who out of weakness were made strong, 
a signal proof that the prophet's power was given to 
him from above, and was not merely the product of 
his own genius. 



Date of The terminus a quo for the prophecy of Nahum is 


prophecy the capture and destruction of No-amon, or Thebes, 

c. 6U0 B.C. r ' 

in Egypt. He quotes it as a warning to Nineveh of 
its impending fate. Shalt thou fare better than No- 
amon, that ivas situate among the canals, that had the 
waters round about her ; whose rampart was the sea 
(i.e. the Nile), and Iter wall the waters ? Ethiopia and 
Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite : Put and 
the Libyans were her 1 help. Yet was she carried away ; 
she went into captivity (iii. 8 ft). 

There can be little doubt that the event referred 
to is the capture of Thebes by Assur-bani-pal, the 
son and successor of Esar-haddon, in his second 
Egyptian campaign, undertaken against Urdamani, 
or Eud-amon, the successor of Tirhakah. The ex- 
pedition took place soon after Tirhakah's death in 
B.C. 664, and we may therefore fix B.C. 660 or there- 
abouts as the earliest possible date for Nahum's 

The terminus ad quem is the destruction of Nineveh, 
which took place, according to the best chronological 
authorities, about B.C. 607, 2 not, as used generally to 

1 So the LXX. 

2 The expedition of Pharaoh-Necoh against the king of Assyria 
(2 Kings xxiii. 29) will in this case have actually been undertaken 
against the last king of Nineveh. There will be no need to assume 
an error in the Book of Kings, or to explain king of Assyria as 
equivalent to king of Babylon, because Nabopolassar's empire had 
taken the place of Assyria. 


be thought, in B.C. 625. The prophecy of Nahum 
must certainly have been composed before that event. 
These limits may, however, be narrowed con- 
siderably. (1) The allusion to the destruction of 
Thebes is in favour of a date towards the beginning 
rather than the end of the period. Though no 
doubt the fall of such a powerful city would make 
a lasting impression, and the ruin of Thebes would 
naturally be selected for mention because it had been 
effected by the Assyrians themselves, the allusion 
would be more forcible if the event had occurred 
within living memory. (2) Judah is not only still 
under the Assyrian yoke, but apparently still smart- 
ing under the recollection of an Assyrian invasion 
(i. 12 6, 13, 15 b; ii. 2). Nineveh, though threatened 
by its enemies, is still in the full possession of its 
wealth and strength (i. 12; ii. 9). Now the last 
recorded Assyrian invasion of Judah was in the 
reign cf Manasseh, who was carried captive to 
Babylon, but after a while was set at liberty and 
restored to his kingdom (2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ff.). 1 

1 The historical character of this narrative, which has been 
called in question, has received remarkable confirmation from the 
cuneiform inscriptions. They do not indeed prove its truth, but 
they shew that it is not incredible. (1) They supply evidence of the 
intervention of Assyria on the coast of the Mediterranean during 
this period. (2) They suggest an explanation of the statement, at 
first sight so perplexing, that Manasseh was taken to Babylon, not to 
Nineveh, which was the capital. After the suppression of Shamash- 
shum-\ikin's revolt, Assur-bani-pal caused himself to be crowned 
king of Babylon, and probably resided there for a time. An in- 
scription exists which records his reception of certain ambassadors 

246 DATE OF NAHUM lect. 

The name of Manasseh appears in a list of kings 
who were tributary to Esar-haddon, the successor of 
Sennacherib, but as there is no hint that he had 
then attempted to throw off the Assyrian yoke, 
it seems probable that the narrative in Chronicles 
refers to another occasion. The inscriptions of 
Assur-bani-pal record that the " West Country" or 
Phoenician and Palestinian states rose when his 
brother Shamash - shum - ukin revolted about the 
year B.C. 648. What can be more likely than that 
Manasseh took part in this rising, or at any rate 
incurred the suspicion of disloyalty, that an expedi- 
tion was sent to inflict punishment, and that he was 
carried away into an ignominious though temporary 
captivity ? * This hypothesis explains Nahum's allu- 
sions to a recent Assyrian invasion. 

On the other hand, after the death of Assur-bani- 
pal (B.C. 626 ?), the power of Assyria rapidly declined. 
The loss of Babylon, where Nabopolassar established 
himself about B.C. 625, was a severe blow to its 
prestige. Josiah seems to have enjoyed a practical 

at Babylon. (3) An exact parallel to the treatment of Manasseh 
is found in Assur-bani-pal's treatment of Necoh I, who was 
seized, bound hand and foot with iron bands and chains, and 
carried to Nineveh ; yet, in spite of this ignominious treatment, 
subsequently restored to his throne. See Schrader, Cuneiform 
Inscriptions, pp. 366 ff., and comp. Driver in Hogarth's Authority 
and Archaeology, pp. 114 ff. 

1 See Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions, pp. 367 ff. It may be 
noticed that colonies were planted in Samaria by Esar-haddon 
(Ezra iv. 2), and Assur-bani-pal, with whom Osnappar (Ezra iv. 10) 
is most probably to be identified. 

viii DATE OF NAHUM 247 

independence, and about the middle of his reign 
(B.C. 622) we find him exercising an authority in 
Northern Palestine, which he would scarcely have 
done if the Assyrian government had still been 
vigorous (2 Kings xxiii. 15 ff.). 

On these grounds it seems best to place the 
prophecy of Nahum soon after B.C. 640, when the 
memory of an Assyrian invasion of Judah was still 
fresh, and the power of Assyria was still un- 
impaired. 1 This date moreover best explains the 
situation of Nineveh which is implied in Nahum. 
He appears to know of a particular enemy who 
is threatening the city (ii. 1), though he does not 
mention its name. Now it was just about this time 

1 Kuenen places the prophecy somewhat later (c. 623), at the 
time when Nineveh was threatened by Cyaxares and the Medes. 
This date seems to me less consistent with the description of the 
power of Assyria as still unimpaired (i. 10, 12 ; iii. 1), for, after the 
death of Assur-bani-pal, if not before, it was rapidly falling into 
decay. The catastrophe is still in the future (iii. 11, 12) ; and it 
is natural to take v. 13 as referring to the future also, and 
describing the paralysis which will seize the Assyrians. Vv. 18, 19, 
which draw a vivid picture of the completed ruin of Nineveh, 
certainly refer to the future. The tenses are perfects of certainty. 

The exhortation to Judah to keep ln j r feasts and perform her 
vows (i. 15) might seem to indicate that Josiah's reformation had 
already begun. But after his captivity Manasseh had at any 
rate tolerated the worship of Jehovah, and the accession of Josiah 
would be sufficient to encourage anticipations of a happier time. 
Moreover if, as I hope to shew, Nahum was writing at a distance 
from Judah, little stress can be laid upon the words. 

Prof. A. B. Davidson, in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and 
Colleges (1896), thinks that a later date still (c. 610-608), shortly 
before the destruction of Nineveh, is not beyond the range of 


that the Median power, which had been consolidated 
by Deioces, became formidable to Assyria under 
Phraortes. Nahum saw that this power was destined 
to be the avenger of Israel's wrongs. Phraortes, 
indeed, lost his life in his attack upon Nineveh ; and 
the Scythian invasion, from which Medes and 
Assyrians both suffered, deferred the final catastrophe. 
It was reserved for Cyaxares, the successor of 
Phraortes, to combine with Nabopolassar, and to 
inflict the blow which Nahum had foreseen. 


Place o) Nahum is called the Elkoshite, or native of Elkosh. 


Unfortunately this designation gives us no certain 

information. No such place is mentioned in the Old 

Testament. In the Lives of the Prophets, ascribed to 

Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, Elkosh is 

located in the tribe of Simeon, near Eleutheropolis, 

which was situated about twelve miles north-east of 

Lachish. 1 Jerome states that in his day a ruined 

village in Galilee called Helkesei was pointed out to 

him as the birthplace of Nahum ; and a village on 

the left bank of the Tigris, near Mosul, bearing the 

name of Alkush, still contains a building which is 

called the tomb of Nahum. None of these rival 

traditions can be regarded as trustworthy. Much 

value can hardly be attached to the traditions of the 

1 See Nestle, in Pal. Expl. Fund, Quarterly Statement, 1879 
pp. 136 ff. 


end of the fourth century a.d. ; while the tomb at 
Alkush is not ancient, and the tradition connecting 
it with Nahum cannot be traced beyond the sixteenth 

It may however be inferred from the contents 
and character of his prophecy, that he was residing 
in Assyria at the time when he wrote it. He uses 
Assyrian words to designate Assyrian officers. 1 He 
was well acquainted with Nineveh. Its brick-built 
walls (iii. 14) ; the ' mantelet ' used for protecting 
the soldiers upon them (ii. 5) ; the river-gates ; the 
palace in the centre of the city which was the last 
retreat of its defenders (ii. 6) ; its temples and 
images (i. 14) ; its immense stores of wealth, the 
spoil of conquered nations, the prey which the lion 
had gathered in his den (ii. 9, 12) ; its vast popula- 
tion, the conflux of many nations (ii. 8 ; iii. 15) ; its 
crowds of merchants (iii. 16) ; its horses and chariots 
(ii. 13) ; its princes with their tiaras ; its marshals 
and nobles and worthies in all their magnificence 
(iii 17, 18), — these are depicted with a vividness 
which bespeaks not merely vigour of poetic imagina- 
tion but the familiarity of an eye-witness. He must 

1 Taphsar, 'scribe' or 'marshal' (iii. 17), is probably the 
Assyrian dupsarru, 'tablet-writer'; minzar (A.V. 'crowned') 
may also be an Assyrian word. Huzzab (ii. 7) still remains 
nnexplained. The suggestion of Mr. Paul Ruben {Academy, 7th 
March 1896) that in place of nn^j/n, 'she is carried away,' should 
be read rhnyn = Assyr. etellitu, 'queen' or ' lady,' throws no light 
on this old enigma, though it would give another Assyrian word in 


have seen the magnificent palace of Assur-bani-pal. 
from the ruins of which many of our finest speci- 
mens of Assyrian art, and many of our most valuable 
cuneiform inscriptions, have been derived. 

That he had seen Nineveh cannot of course 
be proved, but it is a natural inference from the 
forcibleness of his language ; and further, he seems 
to address the city as if it was actually before him 
in all its cruel splendour when he was writing. This 
conclusion is confirmed by phenomena in his book 
which indicate that he was not writing in Judah. 
He has only a passing word for Judah. He seems 
to regard it ideally, as the kingdom of God, rather 
than actually, in its existing condition. There is 
no hint that the Assyrian oppression was a justly 
merited punishment for the sins of Judah, or that 
the city whose deliverance he welcomes was almost 
if not quite as guilty as the city whose doom he 
announces. 1 The absence of reproof and the idealisa- 
tion of Judah are most satisfactorily accounted foT 
by the hypothesis that he wrote at a distance from 
Palestine. Nor is there anything in the prophecy 
which militates against this view. He betrays no sign 
of a close acquaintance with Judah and Jerusalem. 
The references to Palestine (i. 4) are of a distant and 
merely literary character. 

Whether he was a descendant of the exiles carried 
away from Northern Israel nearly a century before, 

1 Cp. Zeph. iii. 1 ff. with Nah. iii. 1. 


or whether he was taken to Nineveh as a prisoner in 
some later invasion, perhaps that of Assur-bani-pal, 
there is nothing to indicate ; but in either case, it is 
interesting to hear the voice of prophecy sounding 
across the desert from the banks of the Tigris, 
publishing the good tidings of the oppressor's fall 
and proclaiming peace, as it sounded nearly a century 
later from the banks of the Euphrates, to announce 
the glad tidings of the end of the still more cruel 
tyranny of Babylon. 1 


The Book of Nahum is distinguished from the The Book oj 

. . Nahum. 

books which we have been hitherto considering by 
its unity, and its literary character. It deals with a 
single subject : it was evidently not based upon oral 
discourses, but composed to be at once committed to 
writing. Its theme is the impending ruin of the 
guilty city of Nineveh, regarded as the proof of 
Jehovah's moral government of the world. 

The book opens with a solemn proclamation of 
Jehovah's twofold character, as a God of vengeance 
and a God of mercy. The rhythm of the original is 
stately as befits the subject : 

Jehovah is a jealous God and an avenger ; 
Jehovah is an avenger and full of wrath ; 

1 The name Nahum, which means Comforter, suggests the 
parallel with Isa. xl. 1 ; and i. 15 is quoted in Isa. Hi. 7. 


Jehovah is an avenger unto His adversaries ; 

And He reserveth wrath for His enemies. 

Jehovah is slow to anger and great in power, 

And He will in no wise acquit the guilty ; 

Jehovah hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, 

And the clouds are the dust of His feet. 

He brooks no rival. He will not condone iniquity. 
If He seem at times slack to interfere, it is the 
patience of omnipotence, and neither the helplessness 
of impotence nor the apathy of indifference. When 
once He wills to act, none can resist His power. 

Before His indignation who can stand ? 

And who can rise up in the fierceness of His anger ? 

His fury is poured out like fire, 

And the rocks are brolcen astmder by Him. 

But in contrast to this appalling awfulness 

Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of adversity ; 

And He knoweth them that take refuge in Him. 

And with an overwhelming flood will He make a full end of 

her place, 
And will pursue His enemies into darkness. 

That judgement is not the contrast to His good- 
ness, but the proof of it. There is no need to mention 
the name of the arch-adversary, the embodiment of 
antagonism to Jehovah. The prophet's eye is riveted 
upon that guilty city. Her offence is insolent defiance 
of Jehovah, high-handed oppression not of His chosen 
people only, but of a multitude of nations, upon whom 
she has trampled with brutal inhumanity. Senna- 


cherib with his insulting blasphemies was her typical 
representative, and to him the prophet's mind recurs. 
From thee went forth one (we can hardly doubt that 
it was he) purposing evil against Jehovah, counselling 
wickedness. Her ferocious violence and her heartless 
treachery are graphically described. The lion did 
tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for 
his lionesses, and filled his caves with prey and his 
dens with ravin. Then, dropping figure, he exclaims, 
Woe to the olood - guilty city, all fidl of falsehood 
and outrage, vjhere rapine ceaseth not. Eesuming 
metaphor, Nahum goes on to describe her as fascinat- 
ing the nations by her insidious charms, and be- 
witching them by her cunning, until she gets them 
into her power, and reduces them to a hopeless 

The prophet's indictment against Nineveh has 
received strange confirmation from the inscriptions 
and sculptures which have been brought to light in 
recent years, many of which may be seen in the 
British Museum. " The barbarities which followed 
the capture of a town would be almost incredible," 
writes Professor Sayce, 1 " were they not a subject of 
boast in the inscriptions which record them." The 
details of the savage cruelties of the Assyrians are 
too horrible for quotation. " How deeply seated 
was their thirst for blood and vengeance on an 
enemy is exemplified in a bas-relief which represents 

1 Assyria; its Princes, Priests, and People, p. 127. 


Assur-bani-pal " — the king, be it remembered, who 
was Nahum's contemporary — " and his queen feast- 
ing in their garden while the head of a conquered 
Elamite king hangs from a tree above." * They are 
witnesses against themselves that they flagrantly 
violated every law and instinct of humanity in their 
lust of conquest and their passion for revenge. 

And so Nineveh's doom was pronounced. With 
righteous indignation not unmingled with an almost 
contemptuous exultation Nahum chants her knell. 
He bids her strain every nerve for defence ; repair 
her walls, make provision for the siege, set her 
sentinels (ii. 1 ; iii. 14). But all in vain. A short 
skirmish outside the walls, and the gates are forced ; 
panic terror paralyses her defenders ; the battle 
rages through her streets ; the central citadel sur- 
renders ; her vast stores of wealth are plundered ; 
she is stripped bare and naked and exposed to infamy 
(ii. 3 ff. ; iii. 2 ff.). Naught remains of all her mag- 
nificence but emptiness and desolation and vacuity. 
So utterly indeed was she destroyed that " the very 
site of Nineveh remained for centuries unknown." 2 
The fact is a striking comment on the prophet's 

She falls unwept. Who will bemoan her ? She 
pitied none, and there is none to pity her. Nay all 
rejoice, for all have been her victims. All that hear 

1 Assyria ; its Princes, Priests, and People, p. 128. 
2 lb., p. 26. 


the report of thee clap their hands over thee, for upon 
whom did not thy wickedness pass continually ? (iii. 19). 

Judah is released from the oppressor's yoke. The 
messengers speed to carry the good news, and the 
prophet bids her celebrate glad festivals of thanks- 
giving and pay her vows. 1 

Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that 
bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace ! Keep 
thy feasts, Judah, perform thy vows; for the wicked 
one shall no more pass through thee ; he is utterly 
cut off (i. 15). 

Nahum had a great principle, an eternal truth, xahums 

, teaching. 

to proclaim — the certain destruction of this world's 
kingdoms built on the foundation of force and fraud ; 
the triumph of the kingdom of God reared on the 
foundation of truth and righteousness. But the 
limitation of view with which he proclaims this 
truth is very remarkable ; and the fact that a 
prophet's view might be thus limited is an important 
principle to be borne in mind for the general inter- 
pretation of the Old Testament. For him Nineveh 
is the representative of worldly power in antagonism 
to Jehovah ; Judah is the kingdom of Jehovah, repre- 
senting Him on earth. Judah is viewed in the 
abstract in the light of her calling and destiny, in 

1 Cp. Ps. lxvi. 11-14. 


a word, idealised ; not in the concrete, as she actually 
was, failing hopelessly to fulfil that calling. 

(1) There is not a single word of recognition that 
the long Assyrian oppression had been the punish- 
ment of Judah's sin, as we are constantly taught 
by other prophets. Nahum's prophecy is the sequel 
to those words of faith with which the book of Micah 
closes : Jehovah will bring me forth to the light, 1 
shall behold His righteousness. Then mine enemy shall 
see it, and shame shall cover her ; which said unto me, 

Where is Jehovah thy God ? (Mic. vii. 10); but Nahum 
betrays none of the deep consciousness of national 
guilt which distinguishes that most touching pro- 

(2) Again, there is no hint that Judah stands in 
present need of penitence and reformation ; yet it is 
difficult, if not impossible, to assign Nahum's pro- 
phecy to a time when the moral and religious con- 
dition of Judah was essentially different from that 
which is described in Zephaniah and Jeremiah. 

(3) Once more, Nahum not only gives no hint 
that the yoke of Assyria would be succeeded by the 
yet heavier yoke of Babylon, but in express terms 
predicts a full deliverance aud restoration for Judah. 
Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no 
more. . . . The wicked one shall no more pass through 
thee. . . . For Jehovah restoreth the excellency oj 
Jacob as the excellency of Israel (i. 12, 15 ; ii. 2). 
Yet the fall of Nineveh was not the final end of 


Judah's servitude ; it was not the immediate pre- 
cursor of her complete restoration, though Nahum 
seems to have expected that it would he. It was 
indeed one step in the evolution of God's purposes 
for His people ; but the salvation of Zion was not to 
be yet. 

Judah's impenitence and faithlessness postponed 
God's purpose. Nahum, writing far away from 
Judah (and in no other way can I understand his 
prophecy), could not realise the deeply ingrained sin 
of the people ; and while he grasped and clearly 
enunciated the great principles of the divine govern- 
ment, he did not take into account the human 
obstacles to the fulfilment of God's purpose, or fore- 
see the long hard course of discipline by which Judah 
must be led to the desired consummation. 



Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord Jehovah ! for the day 
of Jehovah is at hand. — Zephaniah i. 7. 

Contract Zephaniah and Nahum belonged to the same age. 
zephaniah They prophesied in all probability within a few years 


Nahum f eac h other. But Zephaniah stands in pronounced 
contrast to Nahum. While Nahum announced the 
particular judgement of Nineveh alone, and saw in 
that judgement the prospect of Judah's liberation from 
a cruel tyranny, Zephaniah proclaimed the speedy 
approach of an universal judgement, and saw that its 
first and chief severity must fall upon Jerusalem. 
Nahum regards the judgement of Nineveh mainly as 
a just retribution for its crimes. Zephaniah regards 
the judgement of Judah and the nations not only or 
chiefly as the punishment due to them, butas the means 
by which the purification of Judah and the conversion 
of the nations are to be accomplished. Thus Zeph- 
aniah goes far beyond Nahum in breadth of view, and 


in insight into the ultimate course of the divine 

So far as the teaching of a prophet was con- 
ditioned by his environment, a ground for this 
difference may be found in the wholly dissimilar 
circumstances of the two prophets. We have seen 
reason to believe that Nahum prophesied in Assyria, 
and, remote from actual knowledge of the condition 
of Judah, could concentrate his thoughts upon the 
wrongs which she had suffered rather than upon the 
punishment which she deserved. Zephaniah evi- 
dently lived in Jerusalem. 1 He appears to have 
belonged to the royal family. 2 At any rate he had 
abundant opportunity for observing the crimes of 
the highest classes in the capital. 


The title of the book tells us that the word of Date of 

Zephaniah 's 

Jehovah came to Zephaniah in the days of Josiah. prophecy 

r J c. 630 B.C. 

Internal evidence confirms this statement. The 
only question is whether he prophesied in the be- 
ginning of Josiah's reign, before the great reforma- 
tion had done its work ; or towards the close of it, 
when this last effort for amelioration had spent its 

1 Note the special topographical allusions to the Fish-gate, the 
Second Quarter or Lower City (the Mishneh), the Maktesh (lit. 
mortar), where the merchants lived (i. 10 f.). 

2 It is difficult to account for his genealogy being traced up to 
Hezekiah and no further, unless the king of that name is meant. 


force, and the reaction which was to break out in 
the reign of Jehoiakim had already set in. A 
decisive answer may be given in favour of the 
first alternative. The idolatrous practices which 
Zephaniah condemns are precisely those which were 
abolished by Josiah. While it is possible that the 
first steps towards reformation were already being 
made, it seems scarcely conceivable that language 
like that of Zephaniah could have been used after 
the reformation had been carried out. 1 That refor- 
mation can hardly have been completed at one 
stroke ; the Book of Chronicles describes it as a 
gradual process in successive stages; and we shall 
probably not be wrong if we suppose that Zephaniah 
prepared the way for Josiah's movement by his 
preaching, and was one of the prophets who sup- 
ported him in its final achievement (2 Kings 

1 See ch. i. 4 ff., 8 S., 12 ; iii. 1 ff. It has been urged (1) 
that the expression remnant of Baal (i. 4) implies that the reforma- 
tion had already taken place ; and (2) that the allusion to the 
king's sons (i. 8) implies that Josiah's sons were already responsible 
persons. (1) The reading of i. 4 is however doubtful. The LXX 
has the names of Baal, which may be right (cp. Hos. ii. 17) ; and if 
not, the expression may mean no more than ' every vestige of Baal 
worship.' At most it need imply no more than that the reforma- 
tion had commenced, which it did, according to Chron., in the 12th 
year of Josiah. (2) Jehoiakim would have been 12, and Jehoahaz 
10 years old in the 18th year of Josiah, and hardly of age to incur 
censure on their own account. But the king's sons may mean the 
royal family generally, ' the princes of the blood ' ; and if Josiah's 
sons are referred to, it is questionable whether the prophecy implies 
their personal responsibility. This doubtful phrase cannot outweigh 
the positive indications referred to in the text. 


xxiii. 2). His ministry may therefore be dated 
between B.C. 630 and 622. 

It was just about this time that the marauding its occasion 

the irrup- 

hordes of Scythians poured down over Western Hon of the. 

^ •"■ Scythians. 

Asia (p. 240). It seems highly probable that their 
advance was the occasion of Zephaniah's prophecy. 
Eumours of this "scourge of God," which spread dis- 
may and devastation as it went, must have reached 
Jerusalem. What is more likely than that the pro- 
phet should have seized the opportunity, as Joel 
seized the opportunity of the locust-plague, and have 
taught, as Joel did, that this dreaded visitation was 
in reality a manifestation of Jehovah's power, by 
which He was judging the nations, and summoning 
His people to repentance. It is plain that the idea 
of an invasion, and an invasion of an extraordinary 
and desolating character, underlies his description of 
the day of Jehovah. 1 The danger is close at hand. 
The great day of Jehovah is near and coming very 
quickly (i. 14). Now at this time Judah had little 
cause to fear from the Assyrians, while the Bab} r - 
lonians had not yet become formidable. But the 
Scythians correspond remarkably to the description. 
The mystery of their origin clothed them with 
just that vague terribleness which characterises 
Zephaniah's description. They swept down along the 
coast, and Philistia must have suffered heavily from 
them. Herodotus records that in their retreat they 

1 Seei. 7, 13, 16-18 ; ii. 4. 


plundered the temple of Aphrodite {i.e. Atargatis) at 
Ashkelon. They do not appear to have turned aside 
to Jerusalem. It was hid in the day of Jehovah's 
anger. Zephaniah's warnings succeeded in their 
object, and the judgement was averted for the time. 


The In truth the condition of Jerusalem was such as 

condition , . .,,. , , . 

o/judah. to call lor judgement. Alike in religion and m 
morals an appalling corruption prevailed. The cruel 
persecutions of the earlier part of Manasseh's reign 
had been suspended, and the worship of Jehovah was 
tolerated. But that was all. Incense was burned 
to Baal in Jerusalem. Idolatrous priests were regu- 
larly maintained. The worship of the sun, moon, and 
stars upon the roofs of their houses was the favourite 
practice of the people. 

An easy syncretism deemed the recognition of 
Malcam as a deity compatible with a professed 
allegiance to Jehovah. Here there were apostates 
who had forsaken Jehovah; there there were in- 
differentists who did not trouble themselves to seek 
Him. Here there were men who hankered after 
foreign fashions in a way that proved them unfaith- 
ful to their national privileges ; there there were 
practical atheists who denied that there was any 
providential government of the world (i. 4 ff., 8, 12). 


Immorality went hand in hand witli irreligion. 
Zephaniah's strictures upon Jerusalem are hardly 
less severe than those of Nahum upon Nineveh. 

Woe to her that is rebellious and polluted, to the 
oppressing city ! . . . Her princes in the midst of her 
are roaring lions ; her judges are evening wolves ; they 
leave nothing until the morrow. Her prophets are light 
and treacherous persons; her priests have profaned 
that which is holy, they have done violence to the law} 
Self-complacent pride, shameless falsehood, flagrant 
iniquity, merciless extortion, are rife, and yet the 
guilty transgressors are unabashed. The unjust 
hnoweth no shame. 2 

And therefore the ' decree ' of judgement has been 
issued ; the day of grace is passing as swiftly as the 
chaff swept away before the wind, and the day of the 
Lord's anger is about to come upon the guilty city 
(ii. 2). 


It is in his conception of the impending judge- zepkamahs 

i rr i • i > liii it n- breadth of 

ment that Zephaniah s remarkable breadth of view view. 
is to be noticed. The judgement which he pre- 
dicts is an universal judgement. It will be as it 
were a second deluge, consuming all things from off 

1 iii. 1-4. Cp. the expansion of this passage in Ezek. xxii. 23 ff. 

2 iii. 5 ; ii. 1 ; iii. 11-13 ; i. 9. The latter passage appears to 
refer to the extortions practised by the retainers of great men, not 
to idolatrous customs. 


the face of the ground. 1 The great day of Jehovah 
is close at hand. That day is a day of wrath, a day 
of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desola- 
tion, a day of darkyiess and gloominess, a day of clouds 
and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm 
(i. 15). 2 

The storm of judgement strikes Jerusalem first : 
it is infinitely searching (i. 12); there is no possi- 
bility of escape, no means of redemption for the men 
that have sinned against Jehovah (i. 18). Even the 
righteous can hardly be saved. It may be ye shall be 
hid in the day of Jehovah's anger is all the hope that 
is held out even to the meek of the land which have 
wrought His judgement (ii. 3). 

From Jerusalem the storm sweeps westward to 
Philistia, eastward to Moab and Amnion ; it reaches 
Ethiopia in the remotest south, Nineveh in the 
distant north. Nay, none are excepted. My deter- 
mination is to gather the nations, to assemble the king- 
doms, that I may pour upon them Mine indignation, 
even all the fierceness of Mine anger ; for with the fire 
of My jealousy shall all the earth be devoured (iii. 8). 
Depth of If Zephaniah is distinguished by breadth of view 

insight. r . 

in his conception of the universality of the judge- 

1 With i. 2 f. cp. Gen. vi. 7 ; vii. 23. 

2 The opening words of this passage in the Vulgate, Dies irae 
dies ilia, were adopted by Thomas of Celano as the opening words 
of that great hymn on the Last Judgement, which is one of the 
masterpieces of sacred Latin poetry. See Trench, Sacred Latin 
Poetry, p. 296. 


ment in which Jerusalem must share, he is equally 
distinguished by profound insight into the purpose 
and the issue of this universal judgement for Israel 
and for the nations. Nahum views the judgement 
of Nineveh almost as an end in itself. Its grand 
object is the manifestation of Jehovah's righteous 
sovereignty in the punishment of the inhuman 
tyrant. He glances no doubt at the consequent 
liberation of Judah from the yoke of servitude, but 
only incidentally and cursorily. Zephaniah on the 
other hand views the judgement as the appointed 
means for the purification of Israel and the conver- 
sion of the nations. 

In that day . . . I will take away out of the midst of 
thee thy proudly exulting ones, and thou shalt no more 
be haughty in My holy mountain. . . . The remnant 
of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies ; neither 
shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth 
(iii. 11, 13). 

Zion will rejoice in her King ; and Jehovah will 
rejoice in His ransomed people. In words of passion- 
ate tenderness, which remind us of Hosea, the 
prophet declares : 

In that day shall it be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou 
not ; Zion, let not thine hands be slack. Jehovah 
thy God is in the midst of thee, a Mighty One Who 
saveth ; He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will 
rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing 
(iii. 16, 17). 


The restored people will be a witness to God's 

working and a wonder to the world. At that time 

. , . will I make you a name and a praise among all 

the peoples of the earth (iii. 20). 

issues of But it is not only Israel which will be redeemed 

the judge' 

ment/o- through judgement. When Jehovah paralyses all 

the nations o J o I j 

the gods of the earth with the terribleness of His 
advent, men shall worship Him, every one from his 
place, even all the coast-lands of the nations (ii. 1 1). 

The fire of God's jealousy refines while it con- 
sumes. It works for the nations the great change 
of purified lips, that they may all call upon the name 
of Jehovah, to serve Him with one consent. From 
remotest countries they come to worship in Zion. 
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My suppliants, even 
the, daughter of My dispersed, shall bring Mine offering 
(iii. 9, 10). 

Zephaniah has no prophecy of a personal Messiah. 
He does not foresee particularly how redemption is 
to be effected, but this he does foresee, that this 
judgement which is imminent in all its unparalleled 
terribleness will issue in salvation for Israel and the 

Isaiah and Micah had prophesied of the day when 
all the nations would stream Zionwards to learn and 
to worship. Zephaniah repeats this hope ; but he 
takes another firm step forward towards the univer- 
sality of the Gospel, when he foretells that, instead 
of their old defeated and discredited gods, men wilt 


worship Jehovah every one from his place (ii. 11). It 
is a prelude to the yet more definite declaration with 
which Malachi rebuked the bigotry of his contem- 
poraries (i. 11), and it prepares the way for that 
memorable utterance of Him in whom all privileges 
of race and prerogatives of place were abolished : 
The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain nor 
in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father (John 
iv. 21). 

The immediate judgement with which Zephaniah Thefuiju, 


threatened Jerusalem was averted. But his prophecy 
began to be fulfilled in the disasters which befell 
neighbouring nations. It was fulfilled yet further 
in those great convulsions of the nations of the East 
which followed shortly. It was fulfilled for Judah 
in the captivity and the destruction of the guilty 
nation. For these were all steps of progress advan- 
cing towards the great end, elements contributing to 
the fulness of the times, preludes to the establish- 
ment of the universal divine kingdom. 

In part Zephaniah's words still await fulfilment, 
and we do him no injustice if we say that he could 
not anticipate how distant their fulfilment would be. 
It was given to those ancient prophets to soar above 
the earth-born mists which becloud human vision, 
and to see God's purposes rising majestically against 
the clear firmament of His righteous sovereignty, 
like sunlit Alpine peaks against the azure sky ; but 
it was not given them to see all at once how many 


an obstacle must be surmounted, how many a dis- 
appointment endured, ere the longed-for goal could 
be attained. 

These prophets of judgement still teach the great 
lesson that God is King ; and that, in spite of all 
that men may think to the contrary, He is ever 
coming to judge the world. Force and violence are 
transitory ; truth and righteousness abide. Assyria, 
Egypt, Babylon, Macedonia, Eome, where are they ? 
But that little nation of Israel, bruised and battered 
in the clash and collision of mighty world empires, 
scattered and scourged for its sins, rose with a 
new life to be the Jewish Church, and from the 
Jewish Church there sprang that wonder of the 
principalities and powers in heavenly places, — the 
Christian Church ; and in the Name of its Master it 
goes forth conquering and to conquer. 

As we look back upon each successive great day 
of the Lord in past ages faith gathers strength, and 
we look forward without impatience and without 
wavering to that greatest day of all, when the Son of 
Man sliall send forth His angels, and they shall gather 
out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling, 
and them that do iniquity . . . and the righteous shall 
shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, 


Lord, how long ? — Habakkuk i. 2. 

The entry of the Chaldeans on the stage of history The 

J ° J Chaldean 

found its herald in Habakkuk. Nahum, as we have period. 
seen, predicted the destruction of Nineveh. He saw 
in the ruin of that ruthless oppressor of the nations 
a signal exhibition of God's judgement upon pride 
and violence, and anticipated, it would seem, that 
the removal of the tyrant would be immediately 
succeeded by the deliverance and glorification of 
God's people. 

Zephaniah, with a wider and clearer view of the 
course of God's purposes, foresaw that an universal 
judgement must precede deliverance, and that this 
judgement must begin at the house of God. The 
bright expectations kindled by Josiah's reformation 
were doomed to speedy disappointment. It soon 
became evident that the desire for better things had 
never taken real hold of the heart of the nation. 

270 THE CHALDEANS lect. 

When Josiah fell in the fatal battle of Megiddo, the 
hopes of Judah perished with him. Passing over 
his eldest son Jehoiakim, the people made Jehoahaz 
king. After a reign of only three months, he was 
deposed by Pharaoh-Necoh, who was now for a brief 
space supreme over the countries from the Euphrates 
to the Nile. He placed Jehoiakim on the throne 
instead of Jehoahaz. Jehoiakim was a selfish, 
tyrannical, godless ruler. The nobles were only 
too ready to follow his example, and in a short time 
the old evils of Manasseh's reign broke out again. 
Meanwhile the new, mysterious, invincible power 
of the Chaldeans was gathering like a storm-cloud 
in the north. Eumours of their ferocious character, 
their insatiable lust for conquest, their irresistible 
prowess, reached Jerusalem. It was an age to try 
the faith of pious souls. Obstinate questionings 
could not fail to force themselves upon every 
thoughtful mind. At home, the reign of lawless- 
ness ! abroad, this power that knew no law but its 
own ambition and its own strength, threatening to 
overwhelm the earth ! Judah no doubt deserved 
chastisement. But how could a righteous God 
employ for His instrument this self-deifying world 
power ? Was brute force, not righteousness, after all 
the arbiter of human destiny ? 

In such a crisis Habakkuk was called to deliver 
his message; frankly to face the problem, and not 
indeed to solve it, but to shew men how they might 


wait in faith for its ultimate solution. His message 
is a theodicy ; its aim is to justify the ways of God 
to man ; but in providence as in nature it is true 
that His judgements are unsearchable, and His ways 
past tracing out ; and oftentimes the only answer that 
He can return to man's doubts is to point to what 
He has revealed Himself to be, and bid man trust 
that He is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. 


Internal evidence makes it tolerably certain that Date of 


Habakkuk wrote in the reign of Jehoiakim (b.c. 
609-597). The Chaldeans were already in full career 
of conquest. Their terrible reputation had reached 
Jerusalem (i. 5 ff.). Some years must therefore have 
elapsed since Nabopolassar founded the Chaldean 
empire at Babylon (b.c. 625). But it seems impos- 
sible to suppose that the gloomy picture drawn by 
Habakkuk (i. 2-4) can represent the condition of 
Judah during the reign of Josiah. It points decidedly 
to the reign of Jehoiakim, whose selfish luxury and 
oppressive exactions are sharply contrasted by Jere- 
miah with his father's upright conduct and just 
administration (Jer. xxii. 13-17). 

It is however less easy to decide whether the 
prophecy was written in the earlier or in the later 
part of Jehoiakim's reign. It is urged on the one 
hand that the Chaldeans must already have invaded 


Judali. The prophet appears to have their over- 
bearing violence actually before his eyes. The 
wicked is swallowing up the righteous (i. 13). 
According to this view, Habakkuk must have written 
after Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion, which took place 
about B.C. 60 1. 1 On the other hand the language in 
which the rise of the Chaldean power is described 
appears to imply that it is not yet firmly established. 
It still seems incredible to the mass of the people that 
this power which has so suddenly sprung up should 
be destined to prove Jehovah's instrument of judge- 
ment. / work a work in your days, which ye will not 
believe though it be told you (i. 5). But after the 
defeat of Necoh at Carchemish (B.C. 605) the 
supremacy of the Chaldeans was assured. It must 
have been obvious that there was no barrier to stay 
their advance. Nor is it certain that Habakkuk 
speaks of the Chaldeans as having already invaded 
Judah. The language in which their conquests is 
described is still quite general. It is the nations 
which are suffering. It is not clear that Judah is 
represented as being already a victim. On the whole 
the balance of probability appears to be slightly in 
favour of the earlier date, before the battle of Car- 
chemish ; but the interpretation of the prophecy is 
not materially affected, whichever date is adopted. 
Habakkuk's commission is not to predict the rise 

1 In this case v. 5 would have to he rendered, / am working a 
work in your days, which ye would not believe, if it were told you, 


of the Chaldean power, but to reconcile their employ- 
ment as an instrument of judgement with the justice 
of God, and to foretell their ultimate destruction. 


Habakkuk was not a preacher like Jeremiah and Habakhuk 

a writer. 

Zephaniah. His prophecy shews no indications of 
having been delivered orally before it was com- 
mitted to writing. He does not bear a message of 
warning to his guilty countrymen in the hope that 
even at the eleventh hour they might amend their 
ways and avert the impending punishment. It is 
possible indeed that, like Isaiah, he may have in- 
scribed the oracle of consolation on a tablet, and 
exposed it in public, and explained its enigmatic 
utterance to any one who cared to inquire what it 
meant (ii. 2 ff.). But as a whole his book is the fruit 
of religious reflection ; it exhibits the communings and 
questionings of his soul — representative no doubt of 
many other pious spirits of the time — with God ; and 
records the answers which the Spirit of God taught 
him for his own sake and for the sake of tried souls in 
every age. These communings and questionings, 
these wrestlings of his spirit with God, were doubtless 
spread over some considerable time. It is not to be 
supposed that light was given at once. The book 
seems rather to be the result of a prolonged mental 
struggle. But it is — as I must still believe in spite 



of some recent theories as to its character — an artistic 
and connected whole. In form it is dramatic, though 
Ewald's suggestion that it was intended for actual 
performance is destitute of all probability. 
The book. The book opens with a dialogue between the 
prophet and God, in which God is boldly but 
reverently challenged to defend His action in the 
government of the world (ch. i). The answer which 
the prophet receives, with the command to inscribe 
it upon tablets in legible characters which all may 
read, is the assertion of the principles upon which 
death and life depend in nations and individuals. 
This naturally introduces a detailed denunciation of 
the Chaldeans for their career of violence and injustice 
(ch. ii). Their victims are represented as rising up 
to denounce them, and their crime begets its own 
punishment. The last woe is pronounced on the 
senseless stupidity of idol- worship ; and in magni- 
ficent contrast to this folly is pictured the Advent of 
the living God for the destruction of the wicked and 
the salvation of His people. It is a poetic appeal to 
the religious imagination. The splendour of the 
thought convinces and overwhelms the prophet's 
heart ; a holy fear possesses him in the presence of 
this all-sovereign God ; he feels that however gloomy 
and disastrous may be the future through which the 
nation must pass, he can joyously trust in the God 
of his salvation, Who will in the end surely fulfil His 
purposes for His people (ch. iii). 


I have taken this rapid survey of the whole book, 
because it is important to get a general view of the 
relation of its parts and of the progress of thought in 
it, which are so striking as entirely to outweigh 
arguments against the unity of the book derived 
from some difficulties of detail. We may now pro- 
ceed to examine more fully the way in which the 
various thoughts are worked out. 

The book commences with a bold expostulation ck. ». b-a 
with Jehovah. Habakkuk contemplates with dismay 
the reign of lawlessness around him in Judah. Long 
and earnestly has he pleaded with God to interpose, 
but no answer has come : evil rears its head un- 
checked and unremedied: iniquity, violence, oppres- 
sion, plundering, strife, contention, universal paralysis 
of law and order : these are the sights he is compelled 
to witness day by day around him in Judah. Will 
Jehovah never interfere ? 

The answer comes from the mouth of Jehovah ch. ». 5-11. 
Himself. Even now He is raising up the Chaldeans 
to be the executioners of His judgement. Unpar- 
alleled and wholly incredible is the sudden uprising 
of this mighty nation. It is fierce and restless ; it 
marches through the length and breadth of the earth 
in an unchecked career of conquest. It acknowledges 
no higher law, no superior power ; it mocks at the 
puny efforts made to resist its advance; the strongest 
fortresses are no bar to its progress. Yet — and here 
is the one ray of comfort — though it deifies its own 


strength, it will pass away like the hurricane which 
it resembles, and perish self-condemned and be no 
mure seen. 
Ch. i. it-17. Such is the answer to the prophet's complaint. 
But it only raises a fresh perplexity in his mind. 
Granted that Israel deserves to be punished ; granted 
that the relation of the eternal God to His people as 
the Holy One of Israel is the guarantee that chastise- 
ment will not result in annihilation. How, he would 
fain know, can the pure and holy God employ such 
instruments as these lawless upstarts ? How can 
He surrender not Israel only but the nations of the 
world to the mercy of a tyrant who acknowledges 
no law but his own will and worships no god but his 
own might ? Is this Jehovah's government of the 
world ? The judgement seems to be only the triumph 
of violence on a larger scale. The correction of one 
evil appears to involve the permission of a still 
greater evil. 

Jehovah, fur judgement hast Thou appointed him! 
yea, Rock, for correction hast Thou established him ! 
Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and 
that canst not look on perverseness, wherefore lookcst Thou 
upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest Thy peace 
when the wicked swalloweth up him that is more right- 
eous than he ? yea, Thou hast made men as the fishes of 
the sea, as the creeping things that have no ruler over 
tliem ! . . . Shall he therefore continue to slay the 
nations unsparingly ? (i. 1 2 ff.). 


Thus boldly yet reverently the prophet summons 
God to explain Himself ; and then in earnest expecta- 
tion he prepares to watch for an answer, and to 
defend his outspoken challenge. 

The answer comes, in a brief, enigmatic, pregnant 
oracle, which he is to engrave upon a tablet in 
characters that may easily be read, as a testimony 
to future generations ; for its fulfilment will be long 
delayed, albeit come at last it assuredly will. 

Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright vrithin him ; 
But the righteous shall live in his faithfulness (ii. 4). 1 

St. Paul has adopted the second clause as one of 
the watchwords of his theology. He has given it " a 
spiritual meaning and a general application." But 
our present aim is to ascertain its primary and 
original meaning ; and we must be on our guard lest 
the New Testament development of the thought 
which is here presented to us in germ should lead us 
astray as to the meaning which it bears in the 
original context. 

The first clause describes the Chaldean. His 
whole nature is inflated, presumptuous, insincere. It 
is essentially false and unreal ; and therefore — so we 
must complete the sense by inference from the second 

1 This verse is the whole of the oracle which is to be engraved 
upon a tablet, and perhaps (cp. Isa. viii. 1 ; xxx. 8) exposed in 
public to catch the attention of the passer-by. Vv. 2, 3 give the 
reason for the command ; vv. 5 if. are the expansion of v. 4 a. 


clause — it has no principle of permanence ; he ia 
doomed to perish. 

But the righteous — Israel according to its calling, 
realised in the character of those godly men who 
even in the darkest days represented what Israel was 
designed to be — shall live in his faithfulness. We 
shall not rficwasHabakkuk's confident assurance, based 
upon the character of Jehovah ; and this oracle is the 
divine response to that confidence. For the true 
Israel his integrity, his trustworthiness, his constancy, 
the correspondence of his nature to God's eternal 
law, constitute a principle of permanence : he cannot 
perish but is destined to live, through all the cata- 
clysms and convulsions which are to shake the world. 

This is the sense of the words as they are used by 
Habakkuk. We must not anticipate the progress of 
revelation by supposing that faith in the full New 
Testament sense of the word is here revealed as the 
means of life. The Hebrew language indeed has no 
word which fully expresses the idea of faith as an 
active principle. Yet since integrity of character 
and constancy in trouble could only for the Israelite 
spring from reliance on Jehovah, the thought of 
faith as an active principle is not far distant. St. 
Paul takes the message, enlarges it, interprets it, 
and shews its fulfilment in the light of the Gospel 
revelation. 1 

1 Comp. Bishop Liglitfoot, Galatians, pp. 154 ff., " On the 
words denoting Faith." 


This then is the message which the prophet re- 
ceives as the answer to his questionings, that in spite 
of all appearances to the contrary, pride and injustice 
will perish, while righteousness will endure. 

Then, fixing his eye on this turbulent, ferocious, 
self-confident nation of the Chaldeans, he proceeds 
to predict their doom. With dramatic vividness he 
summons the nations which have been their victims 
to pronounce it. Shall not all these take up a parable 
against him, and a taunting riddle, and say, Woe to 
him that increaseth that which is not his ! how long ? 
and that loadeth himself with pledges ! Kestless ambi- 
tion and insatiable lust for conquest will be the ruin 
of the Chaldeans. By their extortions they are as it 
were burdening themselves with a crushing load of 
debt. As suddenly as they themselves have arisen, 
will others arise to reclaim from them their ill- 
gotten spoils ; as ruthlessly as they have plundered 
and slain others, will others plunder and slay them. 
They that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 

Little will their strong fortresses avail to save 
them ; the very beams and stones of them are 
eloquent with the tale of their oppressions. Blood- 
shed and iniquity are not means by which stable 
cities can be built ; the toil of all the nations which 
labour wearily to rear the palaces of Babylon is 
destined to the flames : all that opposes the establish- 
ment of God's kingdom must be destroyed, for (as 
Isaiah had declared more than a century before) the 


earth shall be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah, as 
the waters cover the sea. 

By cunning intrigues they have outwitted their 
enemies, and gloat over the sorry spectacle of their 
shame : ! they in turn must themselves drink of the 
cup of Jehovah's wrath, and their glory be covered 
with infamy. Nay, for their misuse of God's world, the 
very forests of Lebanon which they have wantonly 
destroyed, and the wild beasts which they have 
slain in their savage hunting expeditions, will rise in 
judgement against them. 2 

They have no champion to defend them. What 
can the idols which they have themselves manu- 
factured avail ? What profitcth the graven image, that 
the maker thereof hath graven it 1 the molten image, 
and the teacher of lies, that the maker of his work 
trusteth therein, to make dumb idols ? 3 But how 
different is the God of Israel ! Jehovah is in His 
holy temple : let all the earth keep silence before Him. 

1 The language appears to be figurative and to refer generally to 
the fraud as well as force which the Chaldeans employed. But it 
does not seem impossible that the figure was suggested by an actual 
occurrence. Herodotus relates that Cyaxares and the Medians 
"entertained the greater number of the Scythians as their guests, 
made them drunk, and then massacred them " (i. 106). Such a 
breach of Oriental laws of hospitality could not fail to make a 
deep impression, even though the victims of it were the dreaded 
Scythian invaders. 

2 With the principal ancient versions we must read in ii. 17, 
and the destruction of the leasts shall terrify thee. 

3 It has been suggested that vv. 18 and 19 should be transposed, 
so that Woe, etc. may stand first. But it is possible to be led astray 
by too rigid a demand for symmetry. 


These words form the transition to the great ode 
which occupies ch. iii, — the prayer of Habakkuk, 
as it is called. As the woes upon the Chaldeans 
correspond to the first clause of the central oracle, so 
this poem corresponds to the second. For how better 
shall the prophet enforce the truth that the righteous 
shall live in his faithfulness, than by making men 
feel that the living God rules supreme in the world, 
and ever and anon comes to judgement with a 
purpose of victorious righteousness ? 

Habakkuk has received the assurance that Israel's 
sins will speedily be punished, and that in turn their 
proud oppressors will be judged for their offences, 
while the righteous will live ; but that assurance 
was coupled with a warning that the fulfilment of it 
might be long delayed. He fears that such long 
delay may shake the faith of waiting Israel ; and so 
he prays for a speedier accomplishment of the divine 
purpose — 

Jehovah, I have heard Thy message ; I am afraid. 
Bring Thy work to life, Jehovah, in the midst of the years. 
In the midst of the years wilt Titou make it knoivn, 
In wrath wilt remember mercy. 

The answer to his prayer flashes upon him as in 
a moment. He beholds as in a vision the advent of 
Jehovah to judge and to redeem. He describes it in 
language borrowed from the great deliverances and 
revelations of the past ; — the Eed Sea, Sinai, the 
Jordan, the conquest of the Promised Land. These, 


as the language implies, are all pledges for the 
future. To the Oriental mind, with its disciplined and 
well-stored memory, the law of association meant far 
more than it does to us. A word suggested a whole 
train of thought. A phrase implied an argument. 
And so it is here. The recollection of the past 
is the ground of hope for the future. He who once 
wrought these wonderful works for His people will 
not fail to work the like again in His own time and 
His own way. 1 

Habakkuk sees God coming as He came of old to 
manifest His Presence at Sinai. 2 The radiance of 
His glory fills heaven and earth. Light unapproach- 
able, impenetrable, conceals His power. When He 
takes His stand, the earth trembles, nations are 
scattered, the unchanging mountains are convulsed ; 
as of old He came, so now He comes again. 

The nations tremble at His coming. He dries up 

1 Such I believe to be the right principle of interpretation of this 
difficult ode, following in the main the renderings of the margin of 
the R.V. Many commentators, adopting the renderings which the 
text of the R.V. has retained from the A.V., regard it as wholly a 
historic retrospect, recalling the great deliverances of the past as 
pledges for the future. This method of interpretation appears to 
be less in accordance with the grammatical constructions, though 
it may be admitted that these are not decisive ; it involves more 
difficulties in detail ; and it gives a less forcible meaning to the 
whole. But whichever line of interpretation is followed, the 
general purport of the whole is the same ; to impress upon the 
heart by the help of the imagination the great truth of God's 
sovereign rule in the world. For a rendering of the Prayer to 
illustrate the line of interpretation adopted see Note B, p. 288. 

2 Cp. Deut. xxxiii. 2 ; Judges v. 4, 5 ; Ps. lxviii. 7. 


the sea, and divides the rivers as He did of old. No 
obstacles can bar His progress. His bow is drawn 
to discomfit the enemies of His people. 

All nature trembles awestruck. The sun and 
moon withdraw their light, outshone by the glitter- 
ing of His arrows and the lightning flash of His 
spear. He marches through the earth in an irresist- 
ible progress of judgement. This is the twofold 
purpose of His coming, to redeem His people and 
to execute judgement upon their oppressors. 

Thou art come forth for the salvation of Thy people, 

For the salvation of Thine anointed ; 

Thou hast shattered the head from the house of the wicked, 

Laying bare the foundation to the rock. 

Thou hast pierced with his own spears the head of his warriors, 

Who came as a whirlwind to scatter me, 

Exulting as it were to devour the afflicted in secret. 

The prophet feared when he heard the message 
of impending judgement (v. 2) ; and now, in view 
of this awful manifestation of God's Presence and 
power, he trembles with a terror which convulses 
his whole frame. But while he trembles, he learns 
the secret which will give him patience, nay more, 
rejoicing in the day of trouble, when the land lies 
utterly desolate from the Chaldean invasion. He 
can endure, as seeing Him Who is invisible, working 
in the world. 

For though the fig tree blossom not, 
And there be no fruit upon the vines ; 


Though the labour of the olive disappoint, 
And the fields produce no food ; 
Though the flock be cut off from the fold, 
And there be no herd in the stalls ; 
Yet as for me, I will exult in Jehovah, 
I mil rejoice in the God of my salvation. 

Earthly hopes may fail, but in Jehovah there is 
an unfailing spring of calm happiness in the midst 
of trouble. And one day the indefeasible purpose of 
Jehovah for His people will be accomplished, He 
will give them secure possession of their own land. 
In bold language of faith he sees that goal attained : 

Jehovah the Lord is my strength ; 

He will surely make my feet like hinds' feet, 

And cause me to tread upon mine high places. 

value of the 


Habakkuk's prophecy was a timely word of 
consolation to those who had to watch the dissolu- 
tion of their country, the horrors of the Chaldean 
invasion, the last agony of the siege and capture of 
Jerusalem, and the shadows of the long night of the 
captivity settling down over the city and the land 
they loved. But has he not also a special message 
for an age like our own, in which the problems of 
human existence, of permitted evil, of the slow ad« 
vance of good, press heavily upon thoughtful minds, 
till some are fain to ask whether there is a righteous 
God at all, or whether, if there be a righteous God, 


He is not contending with antagonistic forces which 
He cannot altogether control ? 

Faith and patience are the gist and essence of 
Habakkuk's message. He teaches us that we must 
not look at one small part of God's government alone, 
but study the whole so far as we may see it ; for then 
we shall know that it does make for righteousness ; 
we shall learn to trust where we cannot understand ; 
we shall be enabled to wait in patience for the end 
which will solve the riddle. We see in Habakkuk 
an example of the higher faith that comes through 
doubt — doubt not captious and hasty, but reverent, 
humble, patient, longing to know more of God and 
of His ways. Such questionings as his are answered, 
not with a demonstration that will satisfy the caviller 
who demands to live by sight, but with that fuller 
sense of God — for us of God in Christ — which is life 

Lord, who Thy thousand years dost wait 

To work the thousandth part 
Of Thy vast plan, for us create 

With zeal, a patient heart. 

Note A. — Integrity and Structure of the Book of 

I do not propose to discuss the grounds upon which some 
modern critics maintain that chaps, i. 1-ii. 8 is the only part 
of the book which is to be assigned to the Habakkuk of the 
Chaldean period ; ch. ii. 9-20 being an addition of post- 
exilic times, describing a heathen or heathenishly disposed 

286 INTEGRITY OF lect. 

enemy of the congregation, and ch. iii a prayer of the 
post-exilic congregation in time of distress, possibly written 
by the author of ch. ii. 9-20, possibly taken from some 
collection of Psalms arranged for use in the Temple. If 
the view of the organic connexion between the several parts 
of the book which I have endeavoured to maintain is correct, 
the theory falls to the ground, unless it is to be supposed 
that the original prophecy has been worked up by a literary 
artist at least as skilful as the prophet himself. In support 
of the view taken in the text I append the following analysis. 

The book falls into three main divisions. 

A.— The Problem. Ch. i. 

(1) Habakkuk speaks, expostulating with Jehovah for 
allowing wrong to triumph unchecked so long in Judah 

(2) Jehovah answers, pointing to the Chaldeans, whom 
He has raised up to chastise the guilty nation. Their 
terrible character is described (5-11). 

(3) Habakkuk rejoins, expressing his astonishment that 
Jehovah can not only tolerate these monsters of cruelty, but 
use them as His instruments. Are they to go on for ever 
unchecked in their course of rapine ? (12-17). 

B. — The Solution : — part i. Ch. ii. 

(1) Habakkuk pauses, waiting for Jehovah's answer, and 
considering how he may best defend his bold challenge of the 
divine rectitude (v. 1). 

(2) The answer comes, declaring that the proud Chaldean 
contains in himself the germ of ruin, while the righteous pos- 
sesses the principle of life (2-4). 

(3) The first of these thoughts is expanded. The Chal- 
dean's drunkenness, his restless ambition, his insatiable lust 


for conquest will prove his ruin (v. 5). His victims are 
introduced 1 heaping their execrations upon him in a series 
of woes, for the barbarous cruelties of his conquests, which 
will recoil upon his own head (6-8) ; for the bloodshed and 
injustice by which his empire has been established (9-11); 
for the merciless tyranny by which his capital has been 
built (12-14) ; for the cunning intrigues by which he has 
entrapped his victims and for his wanton outrages on nature 
(15-17) ; for his senseless idolatry (18-20). 

V. 20 contrasts the living God with the dumb and lifeless 
idols, and forms the transition to 

C. — The Solution : — part ii. Ch. iii. 

(1) Habakkuk has heard the announcement of God's 
judgement on Israel, and of the ultimate doom of the 
Chaldeans. But he fears that the long postponement of 
the latter which is contemplated (ii. 2, 3) may prove too 
severe a trial of faith, and therefore he prays that the time 
of waiting may be shortened (iii. 2). 

(2) The answer to his prayer is given in the fuller 
revelation of Jehovah's working in the world, which is 
expressed by the description of His Advent to redeem His 
people and to judge their enemies (3-15). 

(3) Reflecting on this sublime Theophany the prophet 
(speaking in the name of the faithful Israel) expresses his 
determination to rejoice in Jehovah even in the midst of 
distress, in full assurance that He will one day put His 
people in secure possession of their land (16-19). 

It may be observed in conclusion that the dramatic 
character of this ' prayer ' is entirely in keeping with the 

1 Perhaps this idea is lost sight of after v. 8, and in vv. 9 ff. the 
prophet speaks rather in his own person. 


dramatic character of chaps, i and ii ; although it differs 
from those chapters as poetry from prose. 

Note B. — The Prayer of Habakkuk. 

I subjoin a rendering of ch. iii to illustrate the line of 
interpretation adopted in the text. 

A Prayer l of Habakkuk the prophet. In the dithyrambic 
mode. 2 

Jehovah, I have heard Thy message ; I am afraid. 
Bring Thy work to life, Jehovah, in the midst of the yeara 
In the midst of the years wilt Thou make it known, 
In wrath wilt remember mercy. 


God cometh from Teman, 

And the Holy One from Mount Paran. 

His majesty covereth the heavens, 

And the earth is full of His praise. 

For brightness appeareth as the sunlight, 

He hath rays coming forth from His hand ; 

And there is the hiding-place of His power. 

Before Him goeth Pestilence, 

And Fever followeth in His track. 

He hath taken His stand, and made earth to quake ; 
He hath looked, and made nations tremble ; 
And the eternal mountains are scattered, 

1 Cp. 1 Sam. ii. 1 ; Psalms lxxii. 20 ; xc. 1. 

- Shigionoth, the plural of Shiggaion (Psalm vii), probably 
denotes a particular style of music or poetry, or may include 


The seonian hills do bow ; 

His goings are as of old. 

Under affliction do I see the tents of Cushan ; 

The curtains of the land of Midian are trembling. 

Is it against the rivers, Jehovah, 

Is it against the rivers that Thine anger is kindled, 

Is Thy fury against the sea, 

That Thou ridest upon Thine horses, 

Upon Thy chariots of salvation ? 

Thy bow is bared fully bare ; 

(By oath are Thy chastisements decreed) ; x 

With rivers Thou cleavest the earth. 

The mountains see Thee, they tremble ; 

The flood of waters overflows : 

The deep utters his voice, 

The height lifts up his hands. 

Sun and moon abide in their dwelling, 

At the light of Thine arrows as they go, 

At the lightning flash of Thy spear, 

When Thou dost march through the earth in indignation, 

Dost thresh the nations in anger. 

Thou art come forth for the salvation of Thy people, 

For the salvation of Thine anointed ; 

Thou hast shattered the head from the house of the 

Laying bare the foundation to the rock. 2 
Thou hast pierced with his own spears the head of his 

Who came as a whirlwind to scatter me, 
Exulting as it were to devour the afflicted in secret. 

1 Reading and interpretation are very uncertain. 

2 Adopting Cheyne's ingenious emendation, Psalms, p. 396. 



Thou hast trodden the sea with Thine horses, 
The heap of mighty waters. 


I heard, and I trembled inwardly ; 

My lips quivered at the voice ; 

The strength of my bones decayed, 

And my limbs trembled under me : 

That I must wait calmly for the day of distress, 

When the troop of invaders cometh up against my people. 

For though the fig tree blossom not, 

And there be no fruit upon the vines ; 

Though the labour of the olive disappoint, 

And the fields produce no food ; 

Though the flock be cut off from the fold, 

And there be no herd in the stalls ; 

Yet as for me, I will exult in Jehovah, 

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 

Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength ; 

He will surely make my feet like hinds' feet, 

And cause me to tread upon mine high places. 



Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth: see, I have this 
day set thee over the nations and over tlie kingdoms, to pluck up 
and to break down, and to destroy and to overthrow ; to build, and 
to plant. — Jeremiah i. 9, 10. 

There is a tragic interest attaching to the life and Tragic 


times of Jeremiah. The circumstances of the age, o/theu/e 

and times 

the person of the prophet, the character of his of Jeremiah 
message, all combine to demand our sympathetic 
study. Who can watch unmoved, even at the 
distance of twenty-five centuries, the death-agony of 
a nation, and that nation the chosen people of God ? 
Who can fail to be deeply touched by the story 
of the prophet's life -long martyrdom, ended not 
improbably by a martyr's death, — that story with 
its frank confessions of human weakness, and its 
unrivalled testimony to the reality of God -given 
.strength ? Who can ponder without awe the record 
of human hardness and obstinacy, insensible alike 
to the pleadings of love and the denunciations of 


wrath ? Who can trace without wonder and reverence 
the irresistible advance of God's purpose through 
and in spite of man's opposition to His will, bringing 
life out of death, and shaping a new order out of the 
dissolution of the old ? 
z/is book The Book of Jeremiah is a combination of history, 

biography, and prophecy, which carries us into the 
heart of the age, and pictures for us the character of 
the prophet, more strikingly and completely than 
any of the other prophetic books. It is — let it be 
freely confessed — less attractive in outward form 
than Isaiah, and consequently perhaps it is less 
familiar to most readers of the Bible ; but it yields 
to no book in its intensely human interest, and 
deserves the most attentive study. 

Higtory of Very briefly let us recall the history of that long 

(he time:— J J J 



osia o'b-609 na lf- cen tury during which Jeremiah's ministry lasted 
(B.C. 627-577). His call took place in the thirteenth 
year of Josiah (i. 1). It was an auspicious moment. 
The power of Assyria was weakened ; and although 
probably still nominally subject to it, Judah was 
enjoying practical freedom. A noble -hearted king 
was on the throne in the bloom of youth, surrounded 
josiah'sre. by right-minded advisers. A religious reformation 


had just been set on foot 1 to purge the country 

1 According to 2 Chron. xxxiv. 3, Josiah began his reformation 
in the twelfth year of his reign, the year before Jeremiah's call. 


of the idolatrous worship and flagrant immoralities 
which had been dominant through the long and dis- 
astrous reign of Manasseh (2 Kings xxi ; xxiii. 4 ff. ; 
Jer. vii. 9 ff., 17 ff., 30 ff. ; viii. 2 ; xix. 13 ; xxxii. 29, 
etc. ; Zeph. i. 4 ff.). That reign, with its horrible 
enormities, had filled up the measure of Judah's guilt 
(2 Kings xxiv. 3, 4 ; Jer. xv. 4) ; yet in God's for- 
bearance one last opportunity of repentance was to 
be offered ere the final sentence of doom was pro- 
nounced on the apostate nation and the guilty city. 

This movement of reform Jeremiah supported by 
his public preaching. To this period may be referred, 
in the main at least, the contents of chaps, ii-vi 
(see iii. 6) ; though it is highly probable that some 
of these utterances were modified in the light of 
subsequent experience, when he committed them to 
writing in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. 
Repentance was indeed still possible. Amend your 
ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell 
in this place, are the words in which he sums up the 
teaching of this period (vii. 3). But he seems soon 
to have found that the sin of Judah was so ingrained 
and inveterate that there was but little hope of any 
thorough amendment. The sin of Judah was written 
with a pen of iron, with the point of a diamond 
(xvii. 1) ; and their virtual reply to all his exhort- 
ations to repentance was, There is no hope; for we 
will walk after our own devices, and we will do every 
one after the stubbornness of his evil heart (xviii. 12). 


Eighteen years after the commencement of Jere- 
miah's ministry, Josiah fell, fighting against Pharaoh- 
Necoh, on the fatal battlefield of Megiddo. The last 
hopes of Judah perished with him. 
jehoahaz, His second son, Jehoahaz or Shallum, was placed 

B.O. 60 J. 

on the throne ; but, after a brief reign of three 
months, he was enticed by Pharaoh-Necoh to Eiblah, 1 
made prisoner, and carried away to Egypt. Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel appear to have seen some promise of 
good in him, for they both speak with sorrow of his 
untimely fate (Jer. xxii. 10-12 ; Ezek. xix. 3, 4). 
jehoiakim, In his stead Necoh placed Josiah's eldest son 

B.O. 609. r 

Eliakim on the throne, changing his name to Jehoi- 
akim. Judah thus became a dependency of Egypt. 

Jehoiakim was a cruel, selfish, luxurious prince 
(Jer. xxii. 13 ff.). With his accession the old pagan- 
ising party again came into power. The worship of 
Jehovah was not indeed suspended, but it was com- 
bined with heathen idolatries. But mark God's 
long-suffering. Still the offer of pardon was held 
out, and on two occasions at least it was deliberately 
and contemptuously rejected. 

The first of these occasions was in the beginning 

of Jehoiakim 's reign (xxvi. 1 ff. ; cp. vii. 1 ff.) # 

1 Riblah was on the Orontes, midway between Damascus and 
Hamath. It was the meeting-point of the main routes eastward 
to the Euphrates, westward to the coast and Phoenicia, southward 
to Damascus and the Jordan. Pharaoh-Necoh was halting there 
before advancing to the Euphrates ; and Nebuchadnezzar made it 
his headquarters for his campaign against Jerusalem and Phoenicia 
Jer. xxxix. 5, 6). 


Jeremiah was directed to take his stand in the 
Temple court on some public fast or festival, when 
the inhabitants of all the cities of Judah would have 
come to Jerusalem to worship, and there deliver his 
message in the ears of all the people. It may be 
they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil 
way ; that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose 
to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. 
But instead of repenting, the people, led by the 
priests and the prophets, seized Jeremiah and 
clamoured for his life. The charge against him, 
like the charge against our Lord Himself and against 
St. Stephen, was one of blasphemy, for threatening 
the Temple and city with desolation (vv. 11, 12). He 
was only saved by the courageous firmness of certain 
elders, who defended him by quoting the example 
of Micah in the reign of Hezekiah, won over the 
people in spite of the persistent hostility of priests 
and prophets (xxvi. 16, 17), and secured his acquittal. 
The second occasion was in the fifth year of 
Jehoiakim (xxxvi. 9 ff.). The roll which Baruch had 
written at Jeremiah's dictation, and read in public 
on the great fast day in the ears of all the people, 
was taken to the king. We are familiar with the 
scene of the king sitting with his courtiers in his 
winter-palace, with the fire in a brasier burning 
before him. Jehudi began to read the roll to him, 
but he had read no more than three or four columns 
when the king impatiently seized it, contemptuously 


cut it to shreds with his own hand, and flung it into 
the fire which was burning before him. A few of the 
more reverently-minded princes made intercession to 
the king not to burn the roll, but he would not listen 
to them. The rest looked on with indifference or 
approval. The prophet's warnings made no impres- 
sion on them. The king's contempt for Jehovah's 
message did not strike them with any horror. They 
were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the 
king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. 
Thus once more, through its chief head and repre- 
sentative, the nation proclaimed its impenitence, and 
set the seal to its doom. 

Meanwhile the great battle of Carchemish, 1 in the 
fourth year of Jehoiakim, B.C. 605, had settled the 
question of the supremacy of Western Asia. In that 
great battle — it was one of the decisive battles of 
ancient history — the forces of Egypt under Necoh 
met those of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 
xlvi. 2 ff.). Nebuchadnezzar was completely victori- 
ous, and the Egyptians were compelled to retreat. 
For the moment he was unable to follow up his suc- 
cess, as his father's death recalled him to Babylon. 
But he soon returned to secure the fruits of his 

1 Carchemish used generally to be identified with the classical 
Circesium, at the junction of the Chaboras with the Euphrates, but 
is now thought to have been situated much farther up the river 
to the north-west at Jerabis. In either case it commanded the 
passage of the Euphrates, and hence the decisive battle was fought 


victory, drove Necoh's forces back to Egypt, and 
added to the Babylonian empire all the provinces 
which had belonged to Egypt, right up to the frontier 
of that country (2 Kings xxiv. 7). Jehoiakim became 
his vassal. Eor three years he served him, and then 
rebelled. It was an act of mad folly. Nebuchad- 
nezzar soon appeared before the walls of Jerusalem. 
Jehoiakim probably fell in some skirmish. 1 His son 
Jehoiachin, otherwise known as Jeconiah or Coniah, jehoiacMn, 

B.C. 597. 

succeeded him. But after a brief reign of three 
months he was compelled to surrender. He was 
carried prisoner to Babylon ; and Josiah's youngest 
son Mattaniah was placed on the throne — if throne 
it could now be called — under the name of Zedekiah. zedekiah, 

B.O. 597-586. 

The name signifies Jehovah's righteousness. Did the 
heathen monarch know what bitter irony and stern 
truth there was in the name which he gave the 
puppet king ? Jehovah's righteousness: just what the 
faithless king and the ungodly people would not 
believe in ; and because they would not believe in 
it, and respond to it in their lives, it must be made 
manifest in the awful judgements now about to 
fall on the people of God. 

Calamity produced no reformation. In vain Jere- 
miah declared that submission to the yoke of Babylon 
was God's will ; that the exiles in Babylon should 
resign themselves to a prolonged sojourn there, and 

1 Jer. xxii. 19 ; comp. the silence of 2 Kings xxiv. 6 about his 


that those who remained in Judaea should bear the 
yoke of vassalage with equanimity. In the fourth 
year of his reign Zedekiah seems to have been plot- 
ting rebellion. It is clear from the purport of Jere- 
miah's message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, 
Tyre, and Zidon (xxvii. 1 ff.), : that their object in 
sending ambassadors to Jerusalem was to form a 
confederacy to throw off the yoke of Babylon ; and 
it is natural to connect Zedekiah's visit to Babylon 
in the same year (li. 59) with this movement. 
Nebuchadnezzar no doubt had heard of it, and forth- 
with summoned his vassal to appear before him and 
renew his oath of allegiance. 

At length Pharaoh-Hophra came to the throne, 
and, trusting in the old delusion of Egyptian support, 
Zedekiah broke his oath. An oath was none the less 
binding because it was taken to a heathen king. 
Indignantly Ezekiel asks, Shall he prosper ? shall he 
escape that doeth such things ? shall he break the cove- 
nant and yet escape? (xvii. 15, 16). Nebuchadnezzar 
with a powerful army appeared before Jerusalem 
and besieged it. The advance of an Egyptian army 
compelled him temporarily to raise the siege (Jer. 
Destruction xxxvii. 5 ff.). But the end was close at hand. After 

of Jerusa- 
lem, b.c. an eighteen months' siege famine made further resist- 
586. ° ° 

ance impossible. A breach was made in the walls, 
and the city was taken, on the ninth day of the 

1 It is evident from xxvii. 3, 12, 20 ; xxviii. 1, that JehoiaMm 
in xxvii. 1 is a textual error for Zedekiah. 


fourth month of the eleventh year of the reign of 
Zedekiah. Zedekiah attempted to escape, but was 
captured by the Chaldeans, and brought before Nebu- 
chadnezzar at Eiblah. After his sons and the nobles 
who had been taken prisoners had been put to death 
before his eyes, he was himself blinded, according to 
the brutal custom of the time, and carried in fetters 
to Babylon. Ezekiel's prophecy that he should not 
see Babylon, though he would die there (Ezek. xii. 
13), was fulfilled to the letter. A month later 
Nebuzaradan appeared at Jerusalem to execute his 
master's sentence on the rebellious city (2 Kings xxv. 
8 ff.). The principal priests and officers and sixty 
prominent citizens were sent to Eiblah for execution ; 
all the remaining treasures of the temple were carried 
off; the temple, palace, and city were burnt ; and all 
the people of the better class were carried away into 
exile. Only some of the poorest of the people were 
left behind to cultivate the land. Over these 
Gedaliah, the son of Jeremiah's protector Ahikam, 
was appointed governor. Here, at least, there seemed 
to be a gleam of hope. But the miserable jealousy of 
a member of the royal family — Ishmael, the son of 
Nethaniah, instigated by Baalis, king of Judah's 
ancient enemies the Ammonites — speedily quenched 
it. Gedaliah was treacherously murdered; the leaders 
of the people, fearing the vengeance of the Chaldeans, 
migrated — in defiance of Jeremiah's advice — to 
Egypt, where the Jews were scattered about, and 


fell into their old idolatries (Jer. xl-xliv). Five 
years later another deportation completed the de- 
population of Judaea (lii. 30); the land was left 
utterly desolate to enjoy her sabbaths; Jeremiah's 
predictions and threatenings were fulfilled to the 
very letter in his own lifetime, and before his own 

Thus, by the utter destruction of city and sanctu- 
ary, another volume of Israel's history was closed. The 
destruction of the sanctuary at Shiloh had marked 
the end of the age of the Judges ; the destruction of 
Solomon's Temple marked the end of the period of 
the monarchy ; the destruction of the second Temple 
by Titus was to mark by a yet more terrible cata- 
strophe the close of the national history of Israel in 
their own land. 

It is necessary thus briefly to trace the features 
of the history of Jeremiah's times, and to point out 
the obstinacy, the impenitence, the infatuation of 
kings, princes, and people during at any rate the last 
half of that eventful fifty years, if we would at all 
realise the agony, the bitterness, the struggle of Jere- 
miah's ministry, as the long night of the exile settled 
down in storm and gloom upon his beloved country, 
and estimate the strength of the prophetic inspiration 
by which he was enabled to foresee a nobler city 
arising out of the ruins of the old, a new covenant 
taking the place of that which seemed to have been 
so decisively annulled. 



Let us now fix our attention on the prophet him- The prophet 


self. His book is to a large extent an autobiography 
— a volume of personal " confessions," from which we 
learn to know him in his weakness as well as his 
strength, and to sympathise with him in the trying 
circumstances of his long and arduous ministry. He 
was a priest, and his home was at Anathoth, a village 
about three miles to the north-east of Jerusalem. 
His active ministry was mainly exercised in Jeru- 
salem, but apparently he continued to live at 
Anathoth (xi. 21 ; xii. 6 ; xxxii. 7). He was but a mscaii, 
youth when the word of Jehovah came to him. He 
would fain have declined the call. Ah, Lord Jehovah ! 
behold, I cannot speak ; for I am a child. But man's 
I cannot was met by God's Thou shalt. Say not, I 
am a child : for upon whatsoever errand I shall send 
thee thou shalt go, and xohatsoever I shall command 
thee thou shalt speak. . . . Behold, I have put My words 
in thy mouth: see, I have this day set thee over the 
nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to 
break down, and to destroy and to overthrow ; to build 
and to plant. . . . Gird up thy loins, and arise, and 
speak unto them all that I command thee: be not 
dismayed at them, lest I dismay thee before them 
(i. 6 ff., 17). 

We mark at the outset the prophet's natural m» 
timidity of character and reluctance to face the 


terrible task before him. The same characteristics 
reappear in later life, when, in the midst of de- 
famation and persecution, he would gladly have kept 
silence, or fled to some solitary lodge in the wilder- 
ness (xx. 9 ; ix. 2). Jeremiah was not the man upon 
whom human choice would have fallen for so diffi- 
cult, nay, desperate a mission ; but God chooses 
the weak for His instruments, in order that the 
strength with which He endows them may be seen 
to be all His own. 
H?t mission. Yet we may recognise in Jeremiah's character a 
special fitness for his mission. That tender, shrink- 
ing, sympathetic heart could more fully feel, and 
more adequately express, the ineffable divine sorrow 
over the guilty people, the eternal love which was 
never stronger than at the moment when it seemed 
to have been metamorphosed into bitter wrath and 
implacable vengeance. 

Jeremiah's commission concerned not Israel only, 
but " the nations " : he was to be the exponent of 
God's world-plan in that age of convulsion and up- 
heaval. It was primarily to pluck up and to break 
down, and to destroy and to overthrow ; though ulti- 
mately to build, and to plant; in other words, to 
announce the removal of the existing order of things 
to make room for a fresh one. Jehovah was as the 
potter who shapes his work upon the wheels, re- 
moulding it into new forms according to Ins purpose, 
dealing with nations and men in His sovereign 


power, not arbitrarily or capriciously, but according 
to their deserts. It was a commission which might 
well have daunted a bolder heart than Jeremiah's. 
Alone he must stand, in opposition to rulers and 
people alike, to kings and princes, priests and 
prophets, and all the people of the land (i. 18). 
Some friends and supporters he had in the earlier 
days of his ministry ; but they died or were carried 
into exile, and the more he needed support and en- 
couragement as his mission grew more difficult, the 
more entirely was it denied him. He was to form 
no domestic ties ; to abstain from sharing the social 
joys, or shewing his sympathy with the natural 
sorrows, of his countrymen (xvi. 1 ff.). His stern and 
cheerless life of isolation must express the burden 
of his message, and figure the doom of his people. 

We may watch him at his work, delivering his Modes of 


message m the most public places, on the most 
public occasions, in the Temple courts, at the royal 
palace, at the city gates, upon days of fast or festival, 
when the people from the country had come to 
Jerusalem to worship. 1 "We see him using as the 
foundation of his teaching symbolism which involved 
a laborious journey (xiii. 1) ; deducing a lesson of 
warning from the sight of the potter at his wheel 
(xviii. 1 ff.) ; taking a party of elders into the valley 
of Hinnom by the " potsherds' gate," and breaking 

1 See vii. 2 ; xvii. 19 ; xix, 14 ; xxii. 1 ; xxvi. 2 ; xxxv. 2 ; 
xxxvi. 5, 10. 


an earthen pitcher into fragments before them as an 
illustration of the ease with which Jerusalem would 
be destroyed, and the irreparableness of the destruc- 
tion (xix. 1 11'.). He takes the Kechabites, and tests 
their loyalty to their father's command, in order to 
point to the contrast between their fidelity to a 
father's precept and Israel's disregard of Jehovah's 
law (xxxv. 1 ff.). In the last siege of Jerusalem he 
proves his confidence that his prophecies of ultimate 
restoration would be fulfilled, by exercising his right 
as next of kin to redeem a field at Anathoth, on 
which very possibly the Chaldeans were at that 
moment encamped (xxxii. 6 ff.). 

With the help of his faithful scribe and disciple 
Baruch, he commits his prophecies to writing, gather- 
ing together a record of his first twenty-three years 
of ministry, at the crisis when Nebuchadnezzar was 
on the point of invading Judah ; and when the 
godless Jehoiakim destroyed the roll, re-writing it 
with many fresh additions. Specially was he 
charged to commit to writing those wonderful 
prophecies of restoration which form the Book of 
Consolation (chaps, xxx-xxxiii), to be a witness 
during the long years of exile to Jehovah's purpose, 
and a comfort to the faithful in their banishment 
from country and sanctuary and all that they held 
most dear. 
Bis Jeremiah's ministry was a life-long martyrdom. 

Not only was it in its nature a burden that might 


well have crushed the strongest spirit ; not only was 
he compelled to stand almost alone against the whole 
nation ; but he was actually the object of bitter 
persecution : his very life was constantly in danger. 
His neighbours at Anathoth sought to murder him. 
They devised devices against him, saying, Let us destroy 
the tree xoith the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off 
from the land of the living, that his name may be 
no more remembered (xi. 18 ff.). His own family 
raised the hue and cry after him, and could not be 
trusted (xii. 6). Denounce, and we will denounce him, 
say all my familiar friends, they that watch for my 
halting ; peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall 
prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge 
on him (xx. 10). The priest who was the chief 
officer of the Temple thrust him in the stocks for 
profaning (as he thought) the Temple court with his 
forebodings of evil (xx. 1 ff.). The popular prophets 
were in constant opposition to him, both in 
Jerusalem and in Babylon (xxiii. 9 ff. ; xxviii. 1 ; 
xxix. 1), endeavouring, only too successfully, to 
neutralise his message with their flattering falsehoods. 
Not even when he solemnly predicted the death of 
Hananiah, and his prediction came to pass within 
two months (xxviii. 16 f.), nor when he declared 
that Ahab and Zedekiah, who were not only false 
prophets, but immoral livers, would suffer the 
horrible Babylonian punishment of being burnt alive 
(xxix. 21 ff.), did the people believe him. 


Priests and prophets, as we have seen, clamoured 
for his life, and put him upon his trial for predicting 
the destruction of the city and the Temple. Jehoi- 
akim sought to arrest him after he had written the 
roll, and he might easily have shared the fate of 
Uriah (xxvi. 20 ff.). That prophet, for predictions 
similar to those of Jeremiah, incurred the king's 
displeasure, and though he fled to Egypt, he was 
brought back and put to death, and his corpse 
ignominiously flung into the graves of the common 
people. In the profane degeneracy of this unbeliev- 
ing age, no inviolable sanctity attached to the person 
of a prophet. In the siege he was charged with the 
intention of deserting to the Chaldeans, and was 
thrown into prison (xxxvii. 14 ff.). The military 
party demanded his execution. The pusillanimous 
king dared not oppose them. They flung him 
into a filthy dungeon, to perish by starvation ; and 
he was only rescued from it by the charity of a 
foreigner (xxxviii. 1 ff.). He was dragged away 
perforce to Egypt by the men who consulted him 
whether they should remain in Jerusalem, and then 
had not faith or courage to follow his advice (xliii. 
6). Finally, if tradition may be accepted, he was 
stoned to death at Daphnae, in Egypt, by the angry 
people, who were impatient of his denunciations of 
their idolatries. 
Jeremiahs We should have been glad to think that he 


endured this persecution with meekness and patience 


and forgivingness. We can hardly, indeed, be surprised 
that he bemoans his hard lot, or even curses the day 
of his birth (xv. 10 ff. ; xx. 14 ff.). Many a Christian 
man's faith has failed him, and in moments of 
despair he has wished that he had never been born. 
When he challenges the justice of God's govern- 
ment (xii. 1 ff.), or even complains that he has been 
deceived and deluded (xx. 7), we can sympathise 
with the human despair and weariness which for the 
moment loses its hold on God, and sinks exhausted 
and hopeless. 

But we are startled, nay, horror-struck, to hear ana denun- 

,.,... i . , . . ciations of 

his bitter curses against his persecutors, his passionate Ms enemies. 
invocations of divine vengeance upon them. 1 They 
reach a terrible climax in ch. xviii. 19 ff., where he 
prays : 

Give heed to me, Jehovah, and hearken unto the voice 
of my plea} Shall evil be recompensed for good? for 
they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember how I 
stood before Thee to speak good for them, to turn away 
Thy fury from them. Therefore deliver up their 
children to the famine, and give them over to the power 
of the sword ; and let their wives become childless and 
widows ; and let their men be slain of death, and their 
young men smitten of the sword in battle. . . . For Thou, 
Jehovah, Thou knowest all their counsel against me to 

1 See xi. 18 ff. ; xv. 15 ff. ; xvii. 18 ; xviii. 19 ff. ; xx. 11 ff. 

2 This reading of the LXX suits the context better than that 
of the Heb. text, the voice of them that contend vnth me. Cp. ch. 
xx. 12 ; Job xiii. 6. 


slay me : forgive not their iniquity, neither blot Thou 
their sin from Thy sight ; but let them be made 
to stumble before Thee: deal Thou with them in the 
time of Thine anger. 

Let us be just to Jeremiah. The provocation was 
tremendous. The most strenuous efforts for the 
welfare of his countrymen were recompensed with 
treacherous plots against his life, or open demands 
for his execution. And we must not judge him by 
the standard of the Gospel. It is the spirit of 
Elijah and Elisha, not of Christ. It is the spirit 
of Zechariah, whose dying words were, The Lord 
look upon it and require it ; not the spirit of 
Stephen, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. Let 
it be granted that some personal vindictiveness 
was mingled with those imprecations. But there 
was a far deeper meaning in them. They were 
— in however imperfect a way — the expression of 
a desire for the triumph of righteousness, for the 
manifestation of God's justice in the world. We 
must remember how keenly the prophet felt that his 
cause was God's cause, and that his enemies were 
God's enemies ; that God's honour was at stake to 
defend and vindicate His prophet, and prove his 
opponents to be utterly in the wrong ; while in those 
times the idea of future rectification and redress of 
the wrongs of this world was hardly, if at all, enter- 
tained, and godly men longed to see God's righteous 
judgement visibly manifested in this present life. 


Nor must we forget the other side of the prophet's AnothersUt 

of his char- 

character; the tender sympathy of his nature, — I acter - 
suspect it was largely this which made him feel the 
malice of his persecutors so bitterly — the deep sorrow 
with which he watched his infatuated country rush- 
ing madly to irreparable ruin (e.g. iv. 19 ff. ; viii. 18 ff.) ; 
the faith that believed and obeyed and acted even 
where it could not understand (xxxii. 17 ff.), resting 
itself upon the character of God revealed and proved 
in the long history of His dealings with His people. 

Unchristlike as was his temper in denouncing his Jeremiah 

a type 

enemies, men have rightly seen in Jeremiah a type o/chrut. 
of Christ. The solitary sufferer, defamed and perse- 
cuted, and opposed by the spiritual leaders of the 
nation, in an age when the country was hastening to 
ruin, prefigures Him who was to suffer many things of 
the elders and chief priests and scribes, as He made the 
last offer of God's mercy to an obdurate people, before 
they were scattered for a dispersion compared to 
which the seventy years of exile were to be but as a 
few days. 


From the prophet we turn to his message. It was jeremiaKi 


in the main a call to repentance and a warning of judge- 
ment. Like Amos and Hosea, he based his preach- 
ing on the relation of Jehovah to Israel. Jehovah had Jehovah 

and Israel 

chosen Israel, and entered into covenant with them ; 
He had brought them out of Egypt, and led them 


through the wilderness; He had continually edu- 
cated them by the ministry of His prophets (ii. 1 ff., 
6 ff. ; vii. 25). Like Hosea, Jeremiah uses the figures 
of marriage and sonship to describe the closeness of 
Israel's relation to Jehovah, and the duties implied 
in that relationship. I remember for thee the kindness 
of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou 
wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was 
not sown (ii. 2). lam a father to Israel, and Ephraim 
is my firstborn (xxxi. 9). 
Israels But Israel had forsaken Jehovah, and chosen 

sins : — 

other gods ; and false belief had led to a deep-seated 
and inveterate moral degeneracy. My people have 
committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the foun- 
tain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, 
broken cisterns, that hold no water. . . . I had planted 
thee a noble vine, wholly a true seed : how then art 
thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine 
unto Me? (ii. 13, 21). 
idolatry. Idolatry was openly practised in the cities of 
Judah and the streets of Jerusalem ; 1 the very 
Temple had been polluted (vii. 30) ; Jerusalem had 
been defiled with the abominations of human sacri- 
fices; and it would seem that these horrors had 
actually been defended as pleasing to Jehovah, for 
He has expressly to disclaim ever having given such 
a commandment (vii. 31). The people fancied that 

1 See i. 16 ; vii. 16 ff. ; viii. 2, 19 ; xi. 13 ; xxxii. 29 ff. ; xliv. 
2 ff, 7 ff. 


they could unite these idolatries with the worship 
of Jehovah, utterly failing to recognise that he was 
" the jealous God," who would not tolerate a divided 
allegiance, no, not for a moment. 

This provocation of Jehovah was combined with a Unbelief. 
contemptuous scepticism. They have denied Jehovah, 
and said, It is not He ; neither shall evil come upon us 
(v. 12). They were not indeed speculative atheists, 
denying His existence ; but they were practical 
atheists, for they denied the reality and the right- 
eousness of His government of the world. 

Corruption in religion had borne fruit in cor- immorality. 
ruption of conduct. Faithlessness and falsehood, 
injustice and covetousness, violence and murder, 
were universal. 1 Jerusalem was like Sodom in the 
days of Lot. There was no salt of righteousness in 
her to preserve her. Run ye to and fro through the 
streets of Jerusalem, and see noiv, and know, and seek in 
the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there 
he any that doeth justly, that spcaketh the truth, and I 
will pardon her (v. 1). Her sins cried out for punish- 
ment. Shall I not visit for these things ? saith Jehovah: 
shall not my soul be avenged upon such a nation as 
this ? (v. 29). 

Yet the blind confidence of the people in the BUnd/or 


outward forms of religion remained unshaken. They 
offered their sacrifices. Indignantly the prophet re- 

1 See v. 1, 26-28 ; vi. 6 fT., 13 ; vii. 5 ff. ; ix. 2 ff., 8 ; etc., and 
for illustration, xxxiv. 8 ff. 


pudiates the idea that a ritual of sacrifice was the sum 
and substance of the Mosaic legislation (vii. 21 ff.). 
Bluntly they are told that their offerings are not ac- 
ceptable (vi. 20). Severely they are asked, Shall vows 
and holy flesh take away from thee thy wickednesses, 
or shalt thou escape by these ? l They trusted in the 
presence of the Temple in their midst, and, pointing 
to its buildings, exclaimed, with the iteration of 
fanaticism, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of 
Jehovah, the temple of Jelwvah, are these (vii. 4) ; and 
therefore, they argued, no evil could happen to them. 
But sternly Jehovah demands, Will ye steal, murder, 
and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn 
incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom 
ye have not known, and come and stand before Me in 
this house, which is called by My name, and say, 
Deliver us ? 2 — that ye may do all these abominations ! 
Is this house, which is called by My name, become a 
den of robbers in your eyes ? (vii. 9 ff.). 
Seif-con- They trusted in the wisdom of their " wise men " 


— the philosophical thinkers and political advisers of 
the state ; in the law which the priests and scribes 
expounded with an easy-going opportunism ; in the 
comfortable assurances with which the false prophets 
drugged their consciences. The established order 
of things was very satisfactory : it was not going to 

1 Ch. xi. 15, according to the LXX. The Massoretic text can 
only be translated by violence, and gives no satisfactory sense. 

2 Ewald rightly suggests that, by a simple change of vowel 
points, the verb should be read in the imperative. 


come to an end just yet ; Jeremiah was a revolution- 
ary disturber of the public peace to challenge its 
excellence. We are wise, they said, and the law of 
Jehovah is with us. . . . The law shall not perish from 
the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word 
from the prophet (viii. 8 ff. ; xviii. 18). 

No prophetic exhortation could convince them obduracy 
of their sin. No chastisement could bring them to 
repentance. When judgement fell upon them they 
would ask, with an air of injured innocence, WJiere- 
fore hath Jehovah our God done all these things unto 
us? (v. 19 ; xiii. 22: xvi. 10). They were incorrigible 
(v. 3), and nothing was left but to write Judah's 
epitaph : This is the nation that hath not hearkened 
to the voice of Jehovah their God, nor received correc- 
tion : truth is perished, and is cut off from their 
mouth (vii. 28). 

Therefore nothing remains but judgement. The 
city and nation must be swept away. The old order 
must be destroyed that a new one may arise in its 
place : death is the only hope of life. 

At first, indeed, there is a tone of hopefulness in change of 

t • i > T-. n • »n -ii tone in Jere- 

Jeremiah s message. Kelormation was still possible, miahs pro- 
phecies from 
The exile might still be averted (iv. 3 ; vi. 8). Amend hopefulness 

your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to 

dwell in this place (vii. 3). This is the purport of 

the prophecies which belong to the reign of Josiah 

(chaps, ii-vi), though even in these a sense of the 

desperateness of Judah's case frequently appears. 


Perhaps the prophet saw the superficiality of the 
reformation ; perhaps, too, they are coloured by the 
state of affairs in the reign of Jehoiakim, when they 
were committed to writing. 

In the prophecies of the early years of Jehoiakim 
hope and despair alternate. The offer of pardon is 
still made, but the impression left by the discourses 
of this period is that the prophet was thoroughly 
convinced that the conditions of pardon would never 
be accepted. The people are heard pronouncing 
their own doom. When Jehovah pleaded with them, 
Return ye now every one from his evil way, and amend 
your ways and your doings, their answer, in deeds if 
not in words, was this, There is no hope : for we will 
walk after our own devices, and we will do every one 
after the stubbornness of his evil heart (xviii. 12). 
to the con- And so from the fifth year of Jehoiakim and 

viction Hint 

judgemmtis onward the stern sentence goes forth. They are a 

inevitable. ° 

people past praying for, and Jeremiah is forbidden 
to intercede for them any more. 1 Could there be a 
more terrible command than this ? Therefore pray 
not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer 
for them, neither make intercession to Me : for I will 
not hear thee (vii. 16). God's patience is exhausted. 
Nay, even if the most famous intercessors of all 
history, Moses and Samuel, could arise to plead 
their cause, yet would they not prevail to avert the 
judgement (xv. 1 ff.). 

1 See vii. 16 ff. ; xi. 14 ; xiv. 11 ; xv. 1. 


The seventy years' duration of the Babylonian 
supremacy was now plainly proclaimed (xxv. 11 ff.); 
those who were carried away to Babylon with 
Jehoiachin were bidden to settle there, and prepare 
for this prolonged sojourn in the land of exile (xxix. 
4 ff.) ; those who remained in Judaea were counselled 
to bow to the Chaldean yoke, for thus alone might 
the severity of their punishment be mitigated, if they 
would resign themselves to Jehovah's will (xxvii. 
9 ff., 12 ff.). And thus in the final siege Jeremiah 
had to bear the reproach of being a traitor and a 
renegade, because he must needs preach surrender 
when prolonged resistance was but a futile effort to 
evade the inevitable divine decree (xxi. 8 ff. ; xxxvii. 
6 ff. ; xxxviii. 3 ff.). 

From that gloomy and desperate present, that Hope 

. - in ii • • directed to 

terrible spectacle ol an obdurate and impenitent thefu\ur& 
people courting its own doom, Jeremiah turned his 
gaze to the future. In his sternest denunciations of 
judgement he held out the promise of restoration. 
In the darkest gloom of the night of calamity he 
foresaw the dawn of a brighter day. In the death- 
agony of his nation he foretold its resurrection to a 
new life. The fullest promises are collected in the 
" Book of Consolation " (chaps, xxx-xxxiii), a series 
of prophecies which he was specially enjoined to 
commit to writing as the record of God's fore- 



ableness of 

The return 
from exile. 

ordained purpose. But they are not confined to this 
book. Let us try to gather out a general idea of 
their substance. 

(1) The indestructibility of Israel was from the 
first one of his favourite doctrines. The judgement 
which must be inflicted is designed for correction, 
not annihilation. / am with thee, saith Jehovah, to 
save thee : for I will make a full end of all the nations 
whither I have scattered thee, hut I will not make a full 
end of thee ; but I will correct thee with judgement, and 
will in no wise leave thee unpunished (xxx. 11 ; cp. 
iv. 27 ; v. 10, 18 ; xlvi. 28 ; x. 24). He insists upon 
God's good and loving purpose in this chastisement. 
i" know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith 
Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you 
an hereafter and a hope (xxix. 11). 

(2) The nation must go into captivity ; but the 
day for return will come when the seventy years are 
over — a decade of punishment for each century of 
sin — and the double recompence of their iniquities 
has been inflicted (xvi. 18). The exodus from 
Babylon will eclipse the memory of the exodus from 
Egypt (xvi. 14 ff.), and restoration will be for Israel 
as well as Judah (iii. 12 ff.). Fear thou not, Jacob 
My servant, saith Jehovah; neither be dismayed, 
Israel : for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed 
from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, 
and shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him 
afraid (xxx. 10). The storm of the Lord's fury will 


burst upon the head of the wicked (xxx. 23), but the 
day of Babylon's distress will be the hour of Israel's 
redemption (xxx. 7). 

In tenderest language does God declare His love 
for Israel. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting 
love; therefore have I continued lovingkindness unto 
thee (xxxi. 3). It is the love of the father's heart 
yearning over his prodigal son. Is Ephraim My 
precious son ? is he a darling child ? for as often as I 
speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still : 
therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have 
mercy upon him, saith Jehovah (xxxi. 20, cp. ver. 9). 
Kachel's tears for her lost children are dried (xxxi. 
16). Ephraim laments his sin, and prays for the 
grace of penitence (iii. 21 ff.). A holy people return, 
and Zion can be saluted with a greeting worthy of 
her name as the city of God : Jehovah bless thee, 
habitation of justice, mountain of holiness (xxxi. 

(3) A succession of worthless kings had dis- TheMesn, 

i • anic King. 

graced the throne ; but in that day of restoration 
true and faithful shepherds will be raised up to take 
the place of these false and selfish tyrants. Pre-emi- 
nent above them all towers the figure of One whose 
Name is a pledge of the new dispensation which He 
inaugurates. Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that 
I will raise unto David a righteous Branch} and he 
shall reign as king, and deal wisely, and shall execute 
1 Lit. Shoot or Growth. See p. 187. 


judgement and justice in the land. In his days Judah 
shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely : and this is 
his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah is our 
righteousness (xxiii. 5, 6). That Name is a watchword 
of the age to come. It signifies that he is to be the 
pledge for the realisation of the truth, that Jehovah 
Himself is at once the standard and the source of 
His people's righteousness. A righteous ruler will 
reign over a righteous people, in perfect fellowship 
with a righteous God. 

Elsewhere that King is styled David (xxx. 9). 
Not that Jeremiah expected David to return in 
person, like the Arthur of our ancient legend ; but, 
like Hosea, he looked for one of the line of David 
who should fulfil the ideal of the man after God's 
own heart. That King is to have a mysterious privi- 
lege of priestly access to God. / will cause him to 
draw near, and he shall approach unto Me : for who is 
he that hath had boldness to approach unto Me ? saith 
Jehovah (xxx. 21). 
The regener- (4) The city must be destroyed. But out of its 
ruins will arise a new city, wherein shall be heard 
again the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice 
of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of 
them that say, Give thanks to Jehovah of hosts : for 
Jehovah is good ; for His mercy endureth for ever 
(xxxiii. 11). The restored city will bear the same 
name as the righteous King. In those days shall 
Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: 


and this is the name whereby she shall be called, 
Jehovah is our righteousness (xxxiii. 16). For city 
no less than King will be the witness to the truth 
which constitutes the essence of Eedemption, and 
will be the instrument for translating the truth into 
visible fact. 

(5) An apostate people had broken the old cove- The New 


nant made with them at the Exodus (xi. 1 ff.). But 
Jehovah will make a New Covenant, written not on 
tables of stone, but on the tables of the heart, an 
inward, spiritual, everlasting covenant, a covenant of 
pardon and grace. This is the covenant that I will 
make with the house of Israel after those days, saith 
Jehovah : I will put My law in their inward parts, 
and in their heart will I write it ; and I will be their 
God, and they shall be My people : and they shall teach 
no more every man his neighbour, and every man his 
brother, saying, Know Jehovah : for they shall all know 
Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, 
saith Jehovah : for I will forgive their iniquity, and 
their sin will I remember no more (xxxi. 33 f.). 

1 will give them one heart and one toay, that they 
may fear Me for ever ; for the good of them, and of 
their children after them: and I will make an ever- 
lasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away 
from them, to do them good ; and I will put My fear 
in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me 
(xxxii. 39 f.). 

And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, 


whereby they have sinned against Me; and I will 
pardon all their iniquities (xxxiii. 8). 
The Pres- (6) The ark had been the most prized palladium of 
Jehovah, the old order ; and the spirituality and glory of the 
new age could not be more emphatically described 
than by the prophecy that it would neither have nor 
need an ark, because Jehovah Himself would be 
in their midst. His Presence would supersede its 
symbol. In those days they shall say no more, The 
ark of the covenant of Jehovah ; neither shall it come 
to mind : neither shall they remember it ; neither shall 
they miss it ; neither shall it be made any more. At 
that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah 
(iii. 16 £). 
Personal (7) The people failed to realise their own guilt. 

bility. They complained that they were being punished for 

the sins of their forefathers, and impugned the justice 
of God. But in the new age a deeper sense of 
individual responsibility will be realised. In those 
days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten 
sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. 
But every one shall die for his own iniquity : every man 
that eateth the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge 
(xxxi. 29 f.). Jeremiah is not abrogating the second 
commandment. In the very next chapter he ex- 
pressly quotes it (xxxii. 18). He is not questioning 
the truth of the solidarity of a family or a nation. 
There are consequences of their parents' conduct 
which the children cannot escape. But it is for 


their own sins that men are responsible, and for their 
own sins that they will be punished. 

(8) It is an intimate, spiritual fellowship between Fellowship 

with God. 

the repentant, pardoned people and the God who 
loves them with an indomitable love, in spite of all 
their perversity, to which Jeremiah looks forward. 
It is thus summed up : I will give them an heart to 
know Me, that I am Jehovah , and they shall he My 
people, and I will he their God : for they shall return 
unto Me with their whole heart (xxiv. 7). 


But Jeremiah had an express commission to the The destiny 

of the 

nations as well as to Israel. He speaks of a book of nations 
prophecies against the nations, some part at least of 
which is incorporated in the extant Book of Jeremiah 
(xxv. 13). His message to the nations was in the 
main, as it was to Israel, a message of judgement, in judge 
It was an epoch of judgement for the world, and 
Nebuchadnezzar was the divine agent in its execution. 
Lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by 
My name, and should ye be utterly unpunished ? Ye 
shall not be unpunished : for I will call for a sword 
upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith Jehovah of 
hosts (xxv. 29 ; cp. xii. 14 ff.). Jehovah hath a con- 
troversy with the nations ; He will plead with all flesh ; 
as for the wicked, He will give them to the sword 
(xxv. 31; cp. xlvi. 10 ; xlvii. 6; xlviii. 10). 




Nebuchadnezzar is Jehovah's servant: into his 
power He has given the kingdoms of the world, for 
He as their Creator claims the sovereign right to 
dispose their destinies. And all the nations must 
serve Nebuchadnezzar, and his son, and his son's son, 
until the time of his own land come (xxvii. 5 ff.). 
But that day will come, a day of retribution for 
Babylon's heartless violence; and the book of the 
prophecies against the nations closes with a tri- 
umphant vision of vengeance on the great oppressor 
Babylon, who shall sink, and not rise again. 1 
„,„> redemp- Yet even in the judgement of the nations there is 


hope. To Moab, to Amnion, to Elam, a restoration 
is promised (xlviii. 47 ; xlix. 6, 39). 

And, like his predecessors, Jeremiah foresees the 
gathering of the nations to Jerusalem, to the name of 
Jehovah (iii. 17). He sees them come from the ends 
of the earth, disowning their idols, and confessing 
that Jehovah alone is God (xvi. 19). Israel might 
even now be the blessing and the boast of the nations 
according to the patriarchal promise, if it would 
repent (iv. 2) : and in the days to come the nations 
will no longer teach Israel the worship of their false 
gods, but themselves learn to serve Jehovah (xii. 16) ; 
and ransomed Zion will be the wonder of all the 
nations of the earth (xxxiii. 9). 

1 While the statement that Jeremiah prophesied the fall of 
Babylon is not to be questioned (li. 60), it is doubtful whether 
chaps. 1, li, at any rate in their present form, can be from his pen. 
See Driver's Introd. to the Lit. of the O.T.* p. 266. 



Thus in an age of change and convulsion and summary. 
revolution Jeremiah with unhesitatiug faith pro- 
claimed the certain progress of the eternal purpose 
of God. He affirmed that the destruction of the old 
order was but the prelude to the introduction of a 
new and nobler order. He declared that the final 
aim of the removal of the things that were shaken was 
that the things which cannot be shaken might remain. 
In the prophecy of the New Covenant he deepened 
and spiritualised the idea of the relation of the 
Church to God, and emphasised the thought of the 
responsibilities and privileges of the individual. If 
his picture of the Messianic King and his kingdom 
is less magnificent than Isaiah's, the true glory of 
that rule comes into fuller prominence in proportion 
as the outward splendour falls away ; and we make 
a long step forward towards the idea of that spiritual 
kingdom which was to be the true fulfilment of the 
hopes of Israel. 

If, lastly, we ask how Jeremiah's prophecies have The fulfil- 
ment of 
been fulfilled, we can point first to the literal restora- Jeremiahs 


tion of the Jews to their own land. Unlikely enough 
it must have seemed to human calculation, as men 
gazed upon the ruined walls of the city and the 
smoking ashes of the temple, that the greatest glory 
of temple and city was yet to come. But so it was. 
And if the feeble band of exiles that returned, and 


the struggling community which for centuries hardly 
held its own against hostile neighbours, seemed but 
a poor realisation of those glowing pictures of pros- 
perity, what shall we say ? On the one hand, did 
not man's unbelief dwarf and stunt the growth of 
the divine purpose, so that God could not (with 
reverence be it said) fulfil all His will? All pro- 
phecy, as Jeremiah himself repeatedly teaches, is 
conditional. On the other hand, does not St. Paul 
caution us against too hastily assuming that God's 
purposes for Israel as set forth in these prophecies 
have already received their complete fulfilment ? 
We dare not dogmatise how or when or where, but 
we still look for the consolation of Israel (Rom. 
xi. 25 ff.). 

But if something may seem to be wanting to the 
fulfilment of the promises of Israel's restoration, it is 
surely far otherwise with those other most character- 
istic prophecies of Jeremiah. 

The New Covenant has been established in the 
spiritual dispensation of the Gospel, in a law written 
by the Spirit in the hearts of men ; and in the new 
revelation the means of pardon and purification have 
been provided and made known to man. In the 
Incarnation God has come to dwell among men in a 
far more intimate relation than Jeremiah could have 
anticipated. All and more than all of the essential 
spirit of the prophecy of the righteous Branch is 
fulfilled in Christ, the true heir of David's line. In 


Him is set forth the deep meaning of the Name, The 
Lord is our righteousness. He is priest as well as 
king, entering into the presence of God with unceasing 
intercession. To Him all nations are gathered, and 
His Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him 
that filleth all in all, is the present witness in the 
world (alas, with what defect and failure !) of the 
truth which He made known, The Lord is our 

Scorn and shame and persecution and ingratitude 
were the reward of the martyr prophet in his life- 
time ; but " self-sacrifice was fruitful " : fruitful for 
his own age ; for corrupt as were the people as a 
whole, there must have been a holy seed to whom 
his prophecies were as life in death : fruitful for all 
time to come ; for he stands for ever as a strong 
corner-stone in that foundation of the prophets upon 
which is reared the majestic building of the Catholic 
Church of Christ 



The icord of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, 1 
have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel. — Ezekiel iii. 
16, 17. 

EzekieTsJ Eleven years before its final destruction in B.C. 586, 
"I Jerusalem was captured by Nebuchadnezzar, and 
stripped of all its best and noblest inhabitants./ 
Together with the young king Jehoiachin, and the 
queen -mother Nehushta, the ruthless conqueror 
carried away to Babylon all Jerusalem, and all the 
princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten 
thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the 
smitJis : none remained, save the poorest sort of the 
people of the land} \In the train of exiles which 
sadly wended its way across the desert to Babylon 
was a young priest, Ezekiel 2 the son of Buzi, designed 

1 2 Kings xxiv. 14. See further w. 15, 16, aud comp. Jer. 
xxiv. Ezekiel dates from this captivity, and in ch. xxxiii. 21, 
xl. 1, expressly speaks of it as our captivity. 

2 The name means God strengtheneth. Cp. Hezekiah, Jah 


by God to be the centre of religious life and hope 
for his countrymen in the land of their banishment, j 

It must not be supposed that the Jewish exiles in condition oj 

the exiles. 

Babylonia were treated as slaves. Such wholesale 
deportations as that by which Jerusalem was de- 
populated were the common policy of Oriental 
conquerors : they were intended to break the spirit 
of nationality among the conquered peoples, and 
reduce them to the condition of submissive subjects ; 
but, save for the fact that they were torn from their 
homes, the victims of this policy were not harshly 
treated. Lands were assigned them; they were 
allowed to form settlements ; some considerable 
degree of civil and religious liberty was permitted to 
them. The elders no doubt organised the new com- 
munity so far as was possible under the altered 
circumstances ; the first beginnings of what after- 
wards developed into the worship of the synagogue 
probably appeared. 1 Intercourse with those who 
had been left behind in Judaea was maintained. 
Ezekiel was well informed of events which happened 
in Jerusalem (xi. 2 ; xvii. 1 1 if.). Many of his 
prophecies were intended for those who were still 
left behind there rather than for the exiles. 

1 See Ezck. xxxiii. 30 ; and comp. Jeremiah's advice to the 
exiles to build houses and plant gardens and marry and multiply 
in view of the return to their own land ; and to seek the welfare 
of the city to which they had been carried captive, and to pray for 
it (xxix. 4 ff. ). Ezekiel refers to the elders in a way which makes 
it clear that official representatives of the people are meant (viii. 1 ; 
xiv. 1 ; xx. 1, 3). 




home in 

Jeremiah wrote letters and sent messages to the 
exiles in Babylon (Jer. xxix ; li. 59). It may even 
be conjectured that under the pressure of common 
suffering old jealousies were forgotten, and friendly 
communications established with such of the 
Northern Israelites as had remained loyal to their 
religion and nationality through a century and a 
quarter of exile. 

At Tell-Abib on the banks of the river Chebar — not 
Babylonia, to be identified with the Habor (2 Kings xvii. 6) 
which flows through Mesopotamia, but some tributary 
of the Euphrates in Babylonia — Ezekiel settled. He 
was married (xxiv. 18), and had a house of his own 
(hi. 24 ; viii. 1 ; xii. 3 ; xiv. 1 ; xx. 1), to which the 
elders and others resorted to consult the prophet; 
but scarcely any details of his personal history are 
recorded except the sudden death of his wife, and his 
life was probably unmarked by special incident. 

No doubt he had been trained for the duties of 
the priestly office before he left Judaea; but it is 
doubtful whether he had yet been called to exercise 
his priestly office in the Temple. 1 Five years after he 
arrived in Babylonia came his call to the prophetic 
ministry (B.C. 592) ; and from that time onward for 
more than twenty years he was the spiritual centre 

stances of 
his minis- 

1 It the thirtieth year, mentioned in cli. i. 1 in connexion with 
the prophet's call, could be understood to refer to his age, he 
would have been twenty-five years old when he went into exile, 
and probably would not yet have served in the Temple. But it is 
very doubtful to what the thirtieth year refers. 


of the community of exiles. His latest prophecy of 
which the date is recorded was delivered on the first 
day of the first month of the twenty-seventh year of 
the Exile (xxix. 17). Even among the exiles chastise- 
ment had not borne fruit in repentance and amend- 
ment. Some still clung to their old idolatries, which 
they persisted in regarding as compatible with a 
nominal allegiance to Jehovah (xiv. 1 ff. ; xx. 1 ff.) ; 
others were ready to offer a stubborn resistance to 
the prophet's moral teachings (ii. 3 ff. ; iii. 4 ff., 11) ; 
others complained that they had been deserted by 
their God, and declared that they were being punished 
not for their own sins but for the guilt of their 
ancestors (xviii. 2, 25 ; xxxiii. 10, 17, 20 ; xxxvii. 11). 
Ezekiel's task was rendered more difficult by the 
presence of false prophets who buoyed up the hopes 
of the people with delusive promises of a speedy 
restoration (Jer. xxix. 8 ff., 15, 21 ff.). But though 
at first perhaps his message was slighted, and possibly 
he was actually persecuted, he came to be looked up 
to, and recognised as the prophet of the community 
in which he lived ; it grew to be the fashion to 
consult him, and even those who had no mind to 
obey his exhortations would go and listen eagerly to 
his discourse (xxxiii. 30 ff.). 

Thus Ezekiel occupied an entirely new position Novelty of 
as the prophet of Jehovah in a foreign country, far 
removed from the old centre of national life and 
worship, and all that had been regarded as constituting 


the distinctive privileges of Israel among the nations 
of the world. 
amting the This new position largely moulded the character 

character . . . . 

oi his ministry. In the land ot exile, at a distance 
from the scene of action, remote from the feverish 
turmoil, the restless hopes and fears, which agitated 
Jerusalem during the last ten years of its existence, 
he could more dispassionately survey the great 
catastrophe which was impending, and more calmly 
reflect upon its meaning and its purpose. 
nnd the Hitherto public discourse had been the principal 

hi* work. method of prophetic ministry. Jeremiah preached 
for years before he committed any of his prophecies to 
writing : but now, under the changed circumstances 
of his position, the prophet must turn author. It 
is significant that a roll of a hook is given him as 
the symbol of his commission (ii. 9 ff.). Ezekiel's 
prophecies bear evidence of long meditation and 
careful elaboration. Originally he may have spoken 
the substance of them to his little band of hearers, 
for he tells us how at one time it was the fashion to 
come and listen to him (xxxiii. 31 ff.), and how they 
complained that he was a speaker of parables (xx. 49) ; 
but they were intended for Judaea as well as Babylonia, 
and he bestowed careful attention on their literary 
form as he committed them to writing. He dwells 
upon his subject, and expands and develops his 
thoughts, in contrast to the terse, sharp utterances of 
the older prophets. Not content with an outline, he 


fills in the details of the picture, sometimes to the 
detriment of its distinctness. 

Visions, allegories, parables, symbolic actions, HUmgiom 
are marked characteristics of the form of Ezekiel's 
teaching. They may correspond to the prophet's 
temperament, to a naturally imaginative cast of 
mind. God makes use of the natural gifts of His 
servants. These shape, to some extent at least, the 
form which their communications take. But there 
is no ground for regarding Ezekiel's visions as merely 
a literary artifice, as nothing more than the form in 
which he chose to clothe his message. On several 
occasions, we are told, the hand of Jehovah was upon 
him ; in other words, he was the subject of an over- 
powering divine influence, and fell into a kind of 
prophetic trance or ecstasy. This was the case when 
he saw the vision of the glory of Jehovah which was 
the prelude to his call (i. 3 ; cp. iii. 14, 22). It was 
the case when he saw the vision of the shameless 
iniquities committed in the very Temple, by which 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem were banishing the 
presence of Jehovah from its precincts (viii. 1 ff.). It 
was the case again, when he beheld the vision of the 
dry bones brought to life by the inspiration of the 
breath of God, to teach the desponding Israelites that 
life could be restored even to the dry and scattered 
fragments of the nation (xxxvii. 1 ff.). It was 
the case once more, when he saw rising before him 
a glorious picture of the restored sanctuary, in 


which Jehovah would once more vouchsafe to 
dwell in the midst of a purified people (xl. 1). 
But while we maintain that these visions were 
really and supernaturally presented to the prophet's 
mental eye, we may admit that it is possible that 
they received some elaboration in detail as he 
pondered over them before committing his descrip- 
tion of them to writing. No doubt the details of 
the picture were all significant to his own mind, 
though we may not be able to interpret them with 
Aiiegm-ies Allegory and parable he employs not only in 

and par- 

>Mes. predictions of the future, but m descriptions of the 

past and the present. Israel is the foundling child, 
faithless to the preserver who has made her his 
wife (xvi. 1 ff.). She is the lioness, which rears her 
whelps only to become the hunter's prey (xix. 1 ff.) ; 
the stately cedar (xvii. 3) ; the vine which is doomed 
to be destroyed (xix. 10 ff. ; cp. xv. 1 ff. ; xvii. 6). 
Nebuchadnezzar is described as one great eagle, 
the king of Egypt as another (xvii. 3, 7) ; Tyre 
is a stately ship (xxvii. 5 ff.) ; Egypt a monstrous 
crocodile (xxxii. 2 ff.). Sometimes, as in ch. xvii, 
the parable is worked out in detail, and subsequently 

Symbolic Frequently Ezekiel's teaching is presented in the 


form of symbolic actions. It is much disputed 
whether these actions were literally performed, or 
whether they are only introduced as a vehicle for 


the ideas which he wished to convey. It is urged, 
for example, that such signs as the mimic siege of 
Jerusalem (iv. 1 ff.), or the burning and smiting and 
scattering of the hair (v. 1 ff.), would have been 
puerile, and cannot be supposed to have been 
actually performed. Unquestionably, however, pro- 
phets did frequently make use of symbolic actions. 
Jeremiah actually put a yoke on his own neck, 
which Hananiah took off and broke ( Jer. xxvii. 2 ; 
xxviii. 10). He broke the potter's earthen bottle 
in the presence of the elders (Jer. xix. 1 ff.). We 
are not in a position easily to estimate how far 
actions which may seem to us puerile, would have 
been considered puerile by the Oriental mind in 
those early times. The very strangeness, and it 
may be even the foolishness, of a sign, may have 
served to attract the attention of those who would 
have been indifferent to the prophet's words (Ezek. 
xii. 2 ff.). They were a graphic and forcible way 
of expressing the message which he was charged to 
deliver. The prophet's whole life and person and 
family relations must all be subservient to his 
ministry ; he must live for his work ; he must 
suffer that he might teach. 

It was not unnatural that the prophet who was Repeated 
removed from Jehovah's land, and was working divine 


under new conditions in the midst of heathenism, f° r his 

' message. 

should lay special stress on his divine commission. 
The frequency with which he repeats his authority 

834 COMPARISON OF lect. 

for his message 1 is no idle iteration of a meaningless 
formula, but an encouraging reminder to his hearers 
that even in the days of their punishment Jehovah 
had not ceased to care for His people. 
Jeremiah Nothing illustrates the position occupied by 

and Mzekiel 

compared. Ezekiel so well as a comparison of him with 
his contemporary Jeremiah. Ezekiel was in all 
probability personally acquainted with Jeremiah : 
certainly he was familiar with his teaching and 
his writings. During his youth Jeremiah must 
have been one of the most conspicuous figures in 
Jerusalem. His narrow escapes from a violent 
death in the early years of Jehoiakim's reign must 
have been notorious. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were 
both priests ; but in almost every other respect they 
present a striking contrast. Jeremiah was labouring 
in full sight of the death throes of the city and 
nation, watching each stage of the dissolution which 
he could neither avert nor retard, stigmatised as a 
traitor to his country, despised and persecuted by 
the civil, military, and religious authorities of the 
city. Ezekiel in his banishment was at least spared 
the bitterness of actually witnessing from day to day 
the folly and the sin which were filling up the 
measure of Jerusalem's guilt, though he knew of 
them by report, and denounced them from a dis- 
tance. The exiles among whom he lived for the 

1 The formula, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, alone is said to 
occur 117 times. 


most part abstained from any actual persecution, 
and even honoured him as the prophet of Jehovah. 

Jeremiah in the presence of a corrupt worship 
and a polluted Temple must needs denounce the old 
order and declare the necessity for its destruction. 
Ezekiel in a foreign land could predict the restoration 
of Temple and worship in a new and purified form. 

Jeremiah was the man of feeling and action, 
Ezekiel of reason and reflection. Jeremiah's book 
is pervaded by an intense personality. We feel 
that we know him, and sympathise with his living 
martyrdom. Ezekiel is little more to us than a 
name. We do not grasp him or his surroundings, 
or feel the throbbing pulses of his life beating in 
his utterances. His work is carried on in a calm 
equanimity, not in a stress and struggle which were 
almost more than frail humanity could bear. 

Different as were the positions and the tempera- 
ments of the two prophets, for a while their tasks 
lay side by side ; but Ezekiel carries on his work to 
a further point. He is characteristically the prophet 
not only of the downfall of Jerusalem, but of the 
exile in Babylon. 


Ezekiel's book is his own record of his prophetic The Book oj 
work. While it is tolerably certain that the Book 
of Jeremiah was compiled gradually, and only 



brought to its present form by some of his disciples 
after his death, the Book of Ezekiel bears the marks 
of careful plan and arrangement, and comes to us in 
all probability direct from the prophet himself. He 
speaks throughout in the first person : his name is 
only twice mentioned (i. 3 ; xxiv. 24). 

The book falls into three distinct divisions, cor- 
responding to three periods of his ministry : 

(i.) Chaps, i-xxiv contain the prophecies of a 
period of four and a half years from the prophet's 
call in the iifth year of his exile (b.c. 592) to the 
commencement of the siege of Jerusalem in the 
ninth year (B.C. 588). 

(ii.) The last division of the book consists of two 
sections : — (a) prophecies delivered at or shortly after 
the time when the messenger who had escaped from 
the capture of Jerusalem reached him 1 (chaps, xxxiii- 
xxxix) ; and (b) the vision of the constitution of the 
restored community (chaps, xl-xlviii), dated in the 
twenty-fifth year of his exile (B.C. 572), almost at 
the close of his ministry. 2 

(iii.) These two divisions are separated by a 
collection of prophecies concerning the nations, 
chaps, xxv-xxxii, delivered partly, though not alto- 
gether, in the intervals during which he had no 

1 For "twelfth year" in xxxiii. 21 should probably be read. 
eleventh. It is improbable that the fugitive would have taken 
eighteen months to reach Babylon. 

2 The latest date mentioned is that assigned to ch. xxix. 17-21, 
viz. B.C. 570. 


message for Judah, while the siege of Jerusalem was 
in progress. 1 

In the first of these divisions the prophet surveys 
the present. By symbol and figure and discourse 
he enforces the inevitable certainty and the moral 
necessity of the judgement impending over Jerusalem. 
Here and there a gleam of light pierces the darkness ; 
but the prophet must pull down before he can build ; 
he must destroy false hopes before he can hold out 
true ones. 

In the last division he looks forward to the future. 
The blow has fallen : Jerusalem and the Temple are 
in ashes; the people are in exile. No less confidently 
than he had predicted the ruin of the city and the 
dispersion of the people, does he foretell the restora- 
tion of the people to their own land and the rebuild- 
ing of the Temple and the city. 

The judgements on the nations which occupy the 
middle division of the book, form the transition from 
the one to the other. Judgement had begun at the 
house of God, and should it spare the nations ? Nay, 
their malicious triumph at the fall of Jehovah's 
people was an insult to Jehovah Himself: they 
must give place in their turn to His kingdom, and 
be compelled to acknowledge His sovereignty. 

1 Prof. A. B. Davidson prefers to consider the book as consist- 
ing of two equal parts, i-xxiv and xxv-xlviii ; the judgements 
upon the nations, which occupy chaps, xxv-xxxii, being regarded 
as the prelude to the restoration of Israel. 




of Ezekiel's 
work for It in 
own aye 

in destroy- 
ing false 

It is not difficult to see the particular importance 
of Ezekiel's work for his own age in the successive 
periods of his ministry. That ministry, it must he 
remembered, had for its object the whole nation. It 
is in fact sometimes difficult to decide whether he is 
addressing the exiles around him in Babylon or those 
who were still left in Jerusalem. 

So long as the city was still standing, the exiles 
in Babylon, not less than the people who remained in 
Jerusalem, were foolishly cherishing delusive hopes, 
which needed shattering with no gentle hand. The 
expectations of the exiles were, as we have seen, 
buoyed up by the utterances of the false prophets 
who promised them a speedy return. Ezekiel and 
Jeremiah united in pronouncing these expectations 
to be wholly illusory (Ezek. xiii ; Jer. xxix). Mis- 
led by similar false teachings, the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem persuaded themselves into a comfortable 
security that they had nothing more to fear from the 
Chaldeans (Jer. xxviii). There was a party in Judaea 
who despised the exiles, questioned their right to 
claim a share in national privileges, and boasted of 
their own superior position (Ezek. xi. 15). 

Under these circumstances the prophecies con- 
tained in the first division of the book are of necessity, 
in the main, of a gloomy and threatening character. 
Yet here and there rays of light break through the 


clouds. Just when the contemptuous sneers of the 
dwellers in Jerusalem were reported to the exiles, 
the hope of restoration to their own land is held out, 
coupled with the promise of a new heart and regener- 
ate will, which would enable them to keep the com- 
mandments which they had hitherto broken (xi. 16 ff.). 
Just when the heaviest indictment for perfidious 
ingratitude has been entered against Israel, and the 
survey of the nation's history has proved it worthy 
of the severest judgements, the renewal of an ever- 
lasting covenant is foretold, and judgement is shewn 
to have mercy as its final purpose (xvi. 59 ff. ; xx. 
36 ff.). Just when the cedar of the house of David 
is doomed to be plucked up by the roots, Ezekiel 
announces the divine purpose to take from the top- 
most of his young twigs a tender one, and plant it 
in the high mountain of Israel (xvii. 22 ff.). Just 
when the crown is torn from the unworthy brows of 
the prince of Israel, the hint is given that it is 
reserved for One whose right it is (xxi. 25 ff.). 

When once the city had fallen, and the nation had 
for the time ceased to exist, there was grave danger 
lest the exiles should fall into despair and apathy, 
either sullenly murmuring at the injustice of their 
fate or contemptuously acquiescing in their present 
lot. Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, said 
some of them, and we are wasting away in them : how 
then can we live ? (xxxiii. 10). The way of Jehovah is 
not equal, murmured others, who alleged that they 


were being punished for the sins of previous genera- 
tions (xxxiii. 17; cp. xviii. 25). Our hope is lost: we 
are clean cut off, sighed others, who abandoned them- 
selves to faithless despair (xxxvii. 11). 
in awaken- Then it was that Ezekiel bent all his energies to 

ing true 

hopes. awaken and cherish the hope of restoration. God's 

purpose, he proclaimed, was not to destroy, but to 
reform. As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have 
no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the 
wicked turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye 
from your evil ways ; for why will ye die, house of 
Israel? (xxxiii. 11). 

The leaders and rulers of the nation had abused 
their trust. Jehovah's sheep were scattered and 
forlorn. But He Himself will search for His sheep 
and will seek them out. He will gather them from 
the countries, and bring them back into their own 
land. There He will set up one shepherd over them, 
even His servant David. They will be ruled by the 
ideal king, the man after God's own heart. The true 
mutual relation between Jehovah and His people will 
be realised (ch. xxxiv). 

The holy land lay desolate, abandoned to mali- 
ciously exulting enemies who said, Aha ! the ancient 
high places are become our possession (xxxvi. 2). But 
Jehovah will judge the nations. He will restore and 
marvellously augment the fertility of the land. He 
will multiply its inhabitants. When He restores His 
people to their land He will regenerate them by au 


act of pure grace, cleansing them from their sins, 
endowing them with a new nature, implanting in 
them a spirit of willing obedience (ch. xxxvi). 

The nation, as a nation, had ceased to exist. 
Nothing short of a miracle could recall it to life. 
But that miracle will be wrought. The dry bones 
scattered about in the open valley will feel the 
quickening power of the Spirit of God, and be re- 
called to life. The severed peoples will be reunited 
into one. The reunited nation will have one king, 
Jehovah's servant David. He will confirm an 
eternal covenant of peace with them. His sanctuary 
will be in the midst of them for evermore (ch. 

The Temple was in ashes, worship was suspended, 
the land was desolate ; but Jehovah had only aban- 
doned His land and His sanctuary for a little time. 
A nobler Temple and a purer worship will be called 
into existence, answering to an ideal which had never 
yet been realised ; Jehovah will return to dwell in 
the midst of His regenerate people ; a life-giving 
stream will issue from the Temple and fertilise the 
desert; the curse of barrenness will be removed 
(chaps, xl-xlviii). 

Ezekiel's eschatology is almost entirely concerned The future 

. of the 

with Israel. He does not, like Isaiah and Micah, nations. 
picture the nations streaming up to the restored 
Jerusalem to receive instruction ; or, like the great 
prophet of the Exile, describe Zion's oppressors 


coming to pay her homage and to worship her God. 
His visions of the future of the nations are, in the 
main, visions of judgement. Gog and his hosts pour 
down from the remotest north, and, joining with the 
peoples of the distant south, threaten the restored 
Jerusalem with destruction. The powers of the 
world muster their forces for one stupendous final 
effort to destroy the kingdom of God, only to meet 
with complete and ignominious discomfiture. Through 
this and through other judgements the nations, we 
are told repeatedly, shall know that I am Jehovah ; 
they shall recognise that Jehovah is what He claims 
to be in relation to Israel and to the world. But 
there are only hints, few and obscure, of a conversion 
of the nations. Sodom and Samaria, the one the type 
of heinous and defiant sin, the other of self-willed 
separation, will share Israel's restoration, for their 
guilt is less than hers (xvi. 53 ff.). The goodly cedar 
which will spring from the tender twig taken from 
the other cedar which is to be rooted up, will shelter 
in its branches all fowl of every kind ; in other 
words, all nations will resort to the Messianic king- 
dom for protection (xvii. 22 ff.). But though these 
hints of a larger hope are given, they are not 
developed. It is to Israel's future restoration that 
Ezekiel's outlook is almost exclusively directed. 



The fundamental principle and inspiring motive Funda- 
of Ezekiel's teaching was the glory of God. God's p«'««>?es 

glory is the Old Testament expression for the revealed ^TheUon 

Presence of God among His people. His glory cor- °f Jehovah - 

responds to His Name, which is the summary of His 

Nature, so far as He has made it known to man. 

The vision by the river Chebar, which formed the 
prelude to Ezekiel's call to the prophetic office, was 
the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah 
(i. 28). That complex and mysterious vision sym- 
bolised the divine omnipotence, omnipresence, and 
omniscience. It represented the manifold and un- 
ceasing activity of Jehovah's power in the world. It 
was the key to the ministry of the exiled prophet, 
that the glory of God could be manifested in the 
plains of Babylon as truly as on the mountains of 
Judaea. He saw it again in the plains of Babylon 
(iii. 23). In a trance he beheld it in the Temple, 
outraged by the abominations which were done 
in its very presence (viii. 4 ff.). He beheld it 
leaving its accustomed place as the sentence went 
forth to destroy the guilty city (ix. 3 ; x. 4), 
and finally quitting the polluted place which 
was no longer fit for its abode (x. 18, 19 ; xi. 
22, 23). 

Again in vision he saw that glory return to the 





restored city and Temple ; once more the glory of 
Jehovah filled the house, and he heard the voice which 
proclaimed, This is the place of My throne . . . where 
I will dwell in the midst of tlie children of Israel for 
ever (xliii. 2-7 ; xliv. 4). 

This ever-present sense of the glory of God finds 
its counterpart in the title hy which Ezekiel is taught 
to speak of himself. Before that divine Presence he 
feels the frailty of his own humanity : he is the son 
of man ; the weak mortal descendant of mortal earth- 
born flesh. 

Jehovah's Name is the correlative of His glory. 
All His dealings with Israel have been and are and 
will be for His Name's sake. They are designed to 
manifest His one unchangeable Nature. Israel had 
merited nothing but destruction in the wilderness, 
but He spared them for His Name's sake, that it 
should not be profaned in the sight of the nations 
(xx. 9, 14, 22). So now it is not for any merit on 
Israel's part that they will be recalled from exile, 
but for Jehovah's Name's sake. / do not this for 
your sake, house of Israel, but for Mine holy Name 
(xxxvi. 22). The judgement of the nations and the 
redemption of Israel are both a sovereign exercise 
of divine grace in accordance with the immutable 
character of the divine Nature. 

Closely connected with the conceptions of the 

• Glory and the Name of Jehovah is the conception 

of His holiness. His holiness is His essential 

(3) The 


Deity. 1 It has been pro faned b y the e xile of Hi s 
people. He has been forced to let Himself appear 
in the sight of the nations as tho ugh He were unable 
orj mwilling t o protect His people. Thus, when He 
restores Israel, He will demonstrate the holiness of 
His great Name, which has been profaned among 
the nations. As Israel had been the guilty cause 
of its profanation, so it will be made the instrument 
of its sanctification. The nations shall know that I 

am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall he 
sanctified in you before their eyes (xxxvi. 23 ; cp. 
xx. 41 ; xxviii. 25 ; xxxix. 27). In the judgement' 
of the nations, moreover, not less than in the restora- 
tion of Israel, will His sovereign Deity be exhibited. 
Thus it is said of the destruction of Gog : i" will 
magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will make 
Myself known in the eyes of many nations ; and they 
shall know that I am Jehovah (xxxviii. 23 ; cp. v. 16 
and xxviii. 22). 

Such were the fundamental principles of Ezekiel's EzeUei 

~ .., „ emphasises 

theology. Some further characteristic elements of individual 


his teaching remain to be considered. 

The doctrine of individual responsibility had been 
taught by Jeremiah (Jer. xxxi. 29, 30), but Ezekiel 
repeats it with an emphasis which is peculiarly his 
own. Men were complaining that they were being 
punished for the sins of their ancestors ; and he 
meets their complaint by affirming the principle that 

1 See above, pp. 175 ff. 


the soul that sinncth, it shall die : the son shall not bear 
the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear 
the iniquity of the son ; the righteousness of the right- 
eous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked 
shall be upon him (xviii. 20). On the other hand, 
the presence of the righteous cannot avail to deliver 
a land in the day of its transgression. Though these 
three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should 
but deliver their own souls by their righteousness (xiv. 14). 
The sense of personal responsibility in his own 
work weighed heavily on the prophet's own, mind : 
and the nature and limits of that responsibility were 
made clear to him at the outset of his mission, and 
again at the commencement of the second period of 
his work. He was shewn that while he was respon- 
sible for the faithful proclamation of his message, he 
was not responsible for its success or failure (iii. 16 ff.; 
xxxiii. 1 ff.). 
importance We cannot fail to be struck with the attitude 

attached to , . . 

ceremonial of Ezekiel towards the ceremonial side of religion. 
True, he was a priest, and by training and associa- 
tions he might be expected to have a sympathetic 
feeling for the Temple and its ritual ; still he em- 
phasises the importance of ceremonial in a way 
which is new to prophecy. Nor is the reason far 
to seek. So long as the Temple was standing, 
and the chief danger was lest men should trust 
in outward forms, the efforts of prophecy were 
directed to the condemnation of externalism and 


the interpretation and spiritualisation of ceremonial 

But when the Temple had fallen, and the regular 
worship of Jehovah had ceased, prophecy must needs 
foretell the re-erection of the Temple and the restora- 
tion of the forms of worship. Eeligion must of 
necessity find some outward expression ; and as we 
shall see when we come to consider the work of the 
prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Temple was the 
indispensable centre and rallying point for Israel 
in the period of the Eestoration. It was the focus 
of their religious life, the visible pledge and witness 
to Jehovah's Presence among His people, when all 
outward tokens of national power and greatness had 
passed away. 

But it is a strange perverseness which has led does not 


some critics to charge Ezekiel with caring for nothing ethical 

interest ot 

but the externals of religion : of having, as one s py: it . ual 

O J o> religion. 

writer sarcastically says, " the merit of having trans- 
formed the ideals of the prophets into laws and 
dogmas, and destroyed spiritually free and moral 
religion." 1 

Nothing can be more unfair than such an asser- 
tion. In common with his predecessors, he explicitly 
condemns the prevalent sins of idolatry, injustice, 
oppression, impurity, and the like, and insists upon 
the practice of the opposite virtues (ch. xviii). 

But he goes much further and deeper than this. 

1 Dulim, Theologie der Propheten, p. 263. 


The restoration of Israel which he predicts is not 
merely an outward restoration of the exiles to their 
own land. It is to be accompanied by a spiritual 
change wrought by the mighty grace of God. I will 
sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall oe clean. . . . 
A new heart also will I give you, and, a new spirit will 
I put within you ; and I will take away the stony 
heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart 
of flesh. And I ivill put my spirit within you, and 
cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my 
judgements and do them (xxxvi. 25 ff. ; cp. xi. 19, 20). 

Tins regeneration of the restored Israel will be a 
pure act of divine grace. So and not otherwise can 
the mighty change be effected. But Ezekiel lays 
equal stress upon man's freedom to choose, upon his 
need of repentance and purpose of amendment : 
Return ye, and turn yourselves from all your trans- 
gressions. . . . Cast away from you all your trans- 
gressions, ivlierein ye have transgressed ; and make you 
a new heart and a new spirit : for why will ye die, 
house of Israel? (xviii. 30, 31). 

This is not the language of a petrified legalism, 
which expects salvation by its own works, but of 
absolute and utter dependence on the renewing grace 
of God, balanced by the recognition of the freedom 
of the human will and personal responsibility. 

The vision of the restored Temple and re-established 
worship, with its wealth of elaborate detail, might 
seem at first sight to lend some countenance to 


the view that Ezekiel loved form for form's sake. 
But it must be remembered that the great moral 
change is presumed to have been already wrought. 
The people have been regenerated. The Temple is 
the earthly abode of Jehovah Who returns to dwell 
in the midst of His people. The ritual is their 
expression of devotion to His service. It is their 
safeguard against relapsing once more into idolatry. 
No doubt Ezekiel's thoughts move in a limited circle. 
He expresses the perfected relation of Jehovah 
and His people in the terms of what is familiar 
to him. 

The times needed a definite promise that the 
outward ordinances which were then the necessary 
support and expression of religion would be once 
more restored ; but it is a shallow judgement which 
supposes that Ezekiel regards forms and ordinances 
as constituting the whole essence of religion. 

It is not perhaps very profitable to attempt to The 


inquire how far Ezekiel looked for a literal fulfilment 
of his vision of the future, or how far he regarded it 
simply as an embodiment of spiritual ideas. But in 
less than half a century from the close of his ministry 
his prophecies began to be fulfilled. Unlikely as it 
must have seemed to human calculation, hopeless as 
it appeared to many of the exiles, the Israelites were 
restored to their own land, the Temple was rebuilt, 
the worship of Jehovah was re-established. 

But this was but the beginning of a fulfilment. 


Those promises of cleansing and forgiveness and 
spiritual renewal point forward to the revelation of 
the Incarnation and the atonement, and the dispensa- 
tion of the Spirit under which we live. They are 
being fulfilled in us and for us. 

The name of the city shall be Jehovah-Shammah — 
"Jehovah is there"; so the closing words of the 
prophecy summarise the attainment of God's purpose 
for Israel in the perfected realisation of the covenant 
between Himself and His people. The seer of Pat- 
mos beheld Ezekiel's vision expanding with a larger 
fflory, and heard a great voice out of the throne saying, 
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He 
shall dwell with them, and they shall be His peoples, and 
God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. 



fxia Se oucra Tvavra Sui'aTcu (rcxfcia, 

Kul fievovaa (.v aim] to. iravra Katvifa, 

Ka! Kara yeyeas €6S i/a^as 6(T6as /i€Ta/iruVoucra 

(f>ikovs Oeou kgu TrpoifyrjTas KaravKeva^et. 

And Wisdom, being one, hath power to do all things ; 
And remaining in herself, reneweth all things : 
And from generation to generation passing into holy souls 
She maketh men friends of God and prophets. 

Hie Wisdom of Solomon. 



Comfort ye, comfort ye My people. . . . In the wilderness pre- 
pare ye the way of Jehovah. . . . The glory of Jehovah shall be 
revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. — Isaiah xl. 1, 3, 5. 

If the great prophecy of Israel's redemption and internal 


glorification now included in the Book of Isaiah had of the date 

° of Isaiah 

come down to us as an independent and anonymous xl - lxvi - 
document, no reasonable doubt could have been 
entertained as to the time at which it was written. 
Internal evidence would be regarded as fixing its 
date with remarkable precision towards the close of 
the Babylonian Exile. 

Israel is in exile. Jehovah has surrendered His Israel in 


people to their enemies. They are suffering the 
punishment of their sins. They are being tried in 
the furnace of affliction. Jerusalem has drunk to 
the dregs the cup of Jehovah's fury. The daughter 
of Zion lies prostrate in the dust as a mourner ; the 
chains of her captivity are about her neck. The 
2 a 



in ruins. 

1he place 
of exile, 

which has 
lasted long, 

mother city of Zion is a barren exile, bereaved of 
her children, and wandering to and fro. Her children 
are scattered from their home. Jehovah's wife is 
divorced from Him, and her children are sold into 
slavery for their iniquities. 1 

Jerusalem itself is in ruins ; the cities of Judah 
are deserted ; the land is desolate ; the Temple is a 
heap of ashes. The situation is summed up in the 
pathetic words : Thy holy cities are become a wilder- 
ness, Zion is become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 
Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised 
Thee, is burned with fire, and all our pleasant things 
are laid waste (lxiv. 10, 11). 

Babylon is the scene of Israel's captivity. Babylon 
is the oppressor who holds Zion's children in thrall. 
Babylon has been the agent in executing Jehovah's 
judgement, and she has performed her task with a 
malicious pleasure. 2 

The exile has already lasted long. It seems to 
have become permanent. Zion fancies herself for- 
gotten and forsaken. Jehovah sleeps. His wonder- 
ful works of old time are a memory and a tradition 
only. Deliverance from the tyrant's iron grasp 
seems hopeless. The centuries during which Israel 
possessed its land are fading into a mere moment in 
the remoteness of the past. The weary decades of 
exile are lengthening out into an eternity of punish- 

1 See xlii. 22-25 ; xlviii. 10 ; xlix. 21 ; 1. 1 ; li. 17 ; lii. 2, 3 ; etc. 
2 See xliii. 14 ; xlviii. 14, 20 ; xlrii. 6. 


ment. Faith and hope are strained to the point of 
breaking. 1 

But deliverance is at hand. Jerusalem's servi- but is soon 

to end. 

tude is accomplished ; satisfaction has been made 
for her iniquity. The decree has gone forth for 
pardon, redemption, restoration. 2 

The deliverer is on his way. Cyrus is already in 
full career of conquest. Babylon is doomed. The 
proud oppressor is on the point of being humbled. 
Her gods themselves are going helplessly into cap- 
tivity. In fulfilment of prophecy the exiles will be 
set free. They will be sent back to rebuild Jeru- 
salem and restore the Temple. Jehovah will lead His 
people through the wilderness to their ancient home 
in a second exodus, which, as Jeremiah predicted 
(xvi. 14 ff), will eclipse the glories of the first. The 
desolate widow will be consoled. Zion's scattered 
children will be gathered. Her persecutors will 
pay her homage. Glorious with the revelation of 
Jehovah's glory, Jerusalem will become the centre 
of universal worship. Israel will fulfil its mission 
and unite all nations in a willing allegiance to 
Jehovah. 3 

The circumstances are those of the closing years 

1 See lviii. 12 ; lxi. 4 (ancient ruins) ; lxiv. 5, 6 (R.V. ; but the 
text is doubtful and perhaps corrupt) ; xl. 27 ; xlix. 14 ff. ; li. 9. 

2 See xl. 1, 2 ; xli. 27 ; xliii. 1 ; xliv. 21 ff., 24 ff. ; lii. 7 ff. ; 
lvii. 17 ff, etc. 

3 See xliii. 14 ; xlv. 1 ff, 13 ; xlvi. 1 ff. ; xlviii. 14 ; xl. 3, 4, 
9 ff. ; xliii. 19 ff. ; xliv. 26 ff. ; xliii. 5 ; li. 9 ff. ; liv. 1 ff. ; lx.14; 
Ix. 1 ff. ; lxv. 18, 19, etc. 


Date of the of the Babylonian Exile. But the date can be fixed 


about li.'c. even more precisely. Cyrus, according to the 
commonly received account, succeeded to the throne 
of Persia in B.C. 558. Recent discoveries, however, 
appear to shew that he was not originally king of 
Persia, but of Anzan or Elam. 1 However this may 
have been, in B.C. 549 he conquered Astyages, and 
victors and vanquished united to form the powerful 
Medo-Persian empire. The conquest of Lydia and 
the capture of Sardis followed in B.C. 546. Eight 
years later came the decisive struggle against the 
Babylonian empire. Babylon fell in B.C. 538. 

At the time when the prophecy opens Cyrus is in 
full career of victory. The double account of his 
origin from the east and from the north (xli. 2, 25) 
seems to be a definite allusion to the union of 
the Persians with the Medes under his sovereignty. 
But further, the isles or coast lands are described as 
trembling before him (xli. 5), so that apparently he 

1 Recently deciphered inscriptions are said to "cast a new and 
revolutionary light on the character and nationality of Cyrus, as 
well as on his conquest of Babylon. Cyrus and his ancestors are 
shewn in them to have been kings of Anzan or Ansan, not of Persia, 
he and his son Cambyses, so far from being Zoroastrian iconoclasts, 
conform to the worship and ritual of Babylonia, and Babylon 
surrenders to the invader ' without fighting ' instead of undergoing 
the horrors of a siege." Anzan was " the mountainous region in 
the east of Babylonia, which constituted the ancient kingdom of 
Elam, with its capital Susa." The conquest of Astyages took place 
in B.C. 549, but Cyrus does not receive the title of king of Persia 
until B.C. 546. Apparently therefore he only obtained possession 
of Persia in the interval. See Sayce in Records of the Past New 
Series, vol. v, pp. 144 ff. 


was already engaged in his campaigns in the west of 
Asia Minor. On the other hand, Babylon is still 
standing in all her pride and careless security, 
unconscious of her impending doom. 

Accordingly the extreme limits for the date of 
the first division of the prophecy (chaps, xl-xlviii) 
are the years 549 and 538, and while it is not prob- 
able that it was earlier than 546, it can hardly 
have been much later. For though the latest pro- 
phecies in the book, with the possible exception of 
parts of ch. lxvi, are still prior to the fall of Babylon, 
we may detect a tone of disappointment in some 
of them, as though some considerable interval had 
elapsed since the first proclamation of deliverance, 
without the glorious hopes which it held out having 
been realised. 

The place of writing can hardly have been other Babylonia 

the place oj 

than Babylonia. The prophet speaks in the presence writing. 
of a dominant heathenism. Idolatry in all its gross- 
ness and folly surrounds him. He has watched the 
infatuated idolaters carrying their helpless gods in 
solemn procession ; he has seen these contemptible 
deities manufactured, and set up in the temples ; he 
has watched their besotted worshippers at their vain 
devotions. 1 All this points naturally to Babylonia ; 
and when we find the prophet in closest touch and 
sympathy with the exiles there ; when we observe 
how fully acquainted he is with their circumstances, 

1 xl. 18 ff. ; xli. 21 ff. ; xliv. 9 ff. ; xlv. 20 ; xlvi. 1 f., 5 ff. 


their character, their sins, their hopes, their fears 
the impression is confirmed ; and when we note how 
the prophet unites himself with those exiles in con- 
fession, thanksgiving, and earnest pleading, 1 we can 
scarcely doubt that he was himself one of them. 

It has indeed been urged that the author shews 
more acquaintance with Palestine than with Baby- 
lonia. But we should not expect him to introduce 
details about his surroundings in Babylon, other than 
those which bore upon his immediate purpose, such, 
for example, as the descriptions of idolatry; while 
the allusions to Palestine are perfectly natural for 
one whose heart was constantly there. They are 
such as he might easily have derived from the study 
of the older prophetic literature with which his 
mind was steeped, and from conversation with those 
who had been carried into exile by Nebuchadnezzar. 
Many of them no doubt still survived ; every detail 
of Palestinian scenery would be printed in their 
memories ; and they would find a sad pleasure in 
recalling every feature of their lost home. 
The author It follows that if this prophecy was written in the 

not Isaiah. 

last decennium of the Exile, by a prophet living 
among the exiles in Babylonia, its author cannot have 
been Isaiah the son of Amoz, the contemporary of 
Hezekiah. It is no " a priori assumption of the 
impossibility of prophecy " which compels this con- 

1 Note the use of the first person plural in xlii. 24 ; lix. 9-12 ; 
briii. 7, 16 ff. ; lxiv. 1 ff. 


elusion, but a simple induction from the contents of 
the book. The Babylonian Exile is not predicted ; 
it is described as an existing fact. 1 The rise of 
Cyrus is not foretold ; he is already triumphantly 
advancing from point to point. What is predicted 
is the deliverance of the exiles and their restora- 
tion to Palestine. Now while it is conceivable that 
Isaiah might have been transferred in spirit to a 
future age, and, taking his stand in the midst of the 
tribulations which he foresaw were to come, might 
have predicted the deliverance which was to follow, 
such a hypothesis does not seem to be in accordance 
with the economy of revelation. We have repeatedly 
had occasion to observe the circumstantial origin of 
prophecy ; to remark that the teaching of one 
prophet after another was designed to meet the 
needs of his own age ; to note how it arose directly 
out of those needs. Here, on the other hand, we 
should have an example of a prophecy entirely 
disconnected from the events of the author's time. 
It seems far easier to suppose that, under circum- 
stances which we can only conjecture, it was annexed 
to the collection which bears Isaiah's name although 
it was not written till a century and a half after his 
death, than that it forms so startling an exception to the 
general principles by which prophecy was governed. 

1 A comparison of the prophecies in which Jeremiah predicts the 
restoration from the Babylonian Exile will shew the force of this 
argument. In these the Exile is foretold, not assumed. See 
Jer. xxxi-xxxiii. 



The pre- 
by the argu- 
ments : — (2) 
from style 
and lan- 




Not only however does this prophecy contain 
positive indications of its date, which if it had not 
been attached to the Book of Isaiah could not have 
been mistaken, but it is distinguished from the 
acknowledged writings of Isaiah by its style, its 
language, and its theological ideas. The terse, 
compact, forcible oratory of Isaiah is replaced by 
a measured though impassioned eloquence ; the 
vigorous rhetoric of action by the pathetic pleading 
of suffering. Careful examination shews that a 
considerable number of words and phrases charac- 
teristic of Isaiah are entirely absent from these 
chapters, or occur in them but rarely ; and conversely, 
that a considerable number of words and phrases 
occur in these chapters which are not to be found in 
the acknowledged prophecies of Isaiah ; while not a 
few words and phrases which occur once or twice in 
Isaiah without any special force are used here in a 
distinct and specific sense. 1 

Further, the prominent theological ideas of the 
prophecy differ widely from those of Isaiah. This 
will appear in detail from the study of the contents 
of the book : here it may suffice to point out one or 
two of the most striking differences. The Messianic 
King of the stock of Jesse, so conspicuous in Isaiah's 

1 See Driver's Isaiah, pp. 192 ff., for the best statement of this 
argument. " In carefully weighing the material collected in these 
lists," writes Delitzsch in the last edition of his Isaiah (1889), 
" one is surprised at the number of phenomena telling against tha 
unity of authorship " (vol. ii, p. 128, E.T.). 


teaching, is nowhere mentioned. 1 Jehovah is the 
only King in the restored Theocracy (lii. 7). The 
significance of Israel as Jehovah's Servant in relation 
to His universal purpose for the world, and the 
unique portraiture in which the conception of the 
Servant culminates, find no parallel in Isaiah. The 
new and eternal covenant of mercy which Jehovah 
makes with His people in the restoration is never 
alluded to by Isaiah. 2 The contrast between 
Jehovah, the absolute and only God, and the false 
gods which are nothing but material idols, is 
developed in a wholly new way. 

It may indeed be freely admitted that style and 
language change with advancing years, and that we 
have no right to fix limits to the extent of the insight 
and foresight which might have been granted to 
Isaiah in his later years, when he had withdrawn 
from public life and in an undisturbed seclusion 
pondered on the ulterior purposes of God for His 
people. It may be freely admitted that, by the side 
of remarkable differences, there is much in these pro- 
phecies which reflects the language and the teaching 
of Isaiah; for example, the characteristic title of 
Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel; and that the germs of 
much which here attains its full growth and develop- 
ment are to be found already in the writings of the 

1 Unless indeed ch. lv. 3, 4 refers to him. Even if it does, the 
difference is remarkable. 

2 Cp. on the other hand Jer. xxxi. 31 ff. ; xxxii. 40 ; Ezek. 
xvi. 60 ff. ; xxxvii. 26. 


son of Amoz ; but these resemblances cannot be 
regarded as sufficient to establish identity of author- 
ship. Eather they may be taken to indicate that 
this Book of Consolation is the work of a disciple of 
Isaiah, upon whom a double portion of his master's 
spirit rested, and in whom he lived and spoke to another 
generation according to their particular needs. But 
this prophet speaks as one who has been disciplined 
and enlightened by the unparalleled crisis of national 
suffering which had happened in the interval. In 
the historical development of Old Testament revela- 
tion the Exile and no earlier period is the true place 
for this prophecy. 1 
internal We have then to balance the whole weight of the 


must combined arguments from the clear and definite in- 

outweigh ° 

tradition, dications of the circumstances under which the work 
was written, from the marked peculiarities of its 
style and language, and from the distinctive charac- 
teristics of its teaching, against the single fact that it 
has been handed down by the tradition of the Jewish 
Church as a part of the Book of Isaiah. Undoubtedly 
this tradition comes down from ancient times. Jesus 
the son of Sirach found it in its present position 
at the beginning of the second century B.C., and 
naturally regarded Isaiah as its author. 2 In the New 
Testament the accepted tradition is of course fol- 
lowed, and these chapters are referred to and quoted 

1 Cp. Delitzsch's Isaiah, ii. 132 (E.T.). 
2 Ecclus. xlviii. 24, 25. 


as Isaiah. But this tradition cannot counterbalance 
the overwhelming weight of internal evidence. It 
may be thought surprising that the name of one of 
the greatest of Israel's prophets should have fallen 
into irrevocable oblivion, but it is not more surprising 
than that there is not the faintest clue to the name 
of the greatest of Israel's poet-thinkers, the author of 
the Book of Job. But here as in other cases the 
individuality of the prophet who was charged with a 
divine commission seems to have been regarded as of 
comparatively little importance. The messenger was 
lost sight of in the message ; nay, the more divinely 
wonderful the message, the less it mattered for pos- 
terity to know from what human lips or pen it came. 
Why this prophecy was attached to the Book of 
Isaiah instead of being preserved as an independent 
book must remain an unsolved enigma. 1 We know 
nothing of the circumstances under which the pro- 
phetic writings were finally collected into their 
present form. We have already (p. 148) seen reason 
to believe that the earlier part of the Book of Isaiah 

1 A partial explanation may be found in the form of ancient 
books. The prophecy was annexed to Isaiah i-xxxix, in order 
to form a volume approximately equal in size to those of Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets. If it was anonymous, it would 
soon come to be ascribed to Isaiah. "Every one who has handled 
Eastern manuscripts knows that scribes constantly copy out several 
works into one volume without taking the precautions necessary 
to prevent an anonymous piece from being ascribed to the author 
of the work to which it is attached." — Robertson Smith, O.T. in 
Jewish Church (ed. 2), p. 100. But the reasons suggested above 
probably had some influence in determining its position. 

364 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

contains discourses or writings of his disciples. A 
true instinct may have felt that the right place for 
the prophecies of the greatest of his disciples was in 
the same volume with his master's writiugs. In 
such a prophet Isaiah himself lived on : the sons of 
the prophets were the descendants of their spiritual 
father ; there was a continuity and solidarity in the 
spiritual as in the natural family ; and no injustice 
would be done if posterity identified them. It is 
possible, too, that the significance of Isaiah's name 
may have had some influence. Where could the 
great prophecy of Israel's deliverance from Babylon 
be more fitly placed than in the volume of the pro- 
phet whose name proclaimed the message of Jehovah's 
salvation ? At any rate, there is no ground for a 
charge of fraud or imposture. There is not the 
slightest reason for supposing that a nameless prophet 
wished to secure the prestige of a famous name. The 
book itself does not contain the faintest trace of any 
claim to have been written by Isaiah, such as would 
certainly have been found in a pseudonymous 
production. 1 


It follows that the Book of Consolation is to be 

1 In the Talmudic list the prophets are placed in the order, 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah ; and they are found in this order in 
many MSS. It has been conjectured that the position of Isaiah 
preserves a trace of a consciousness that, in its present form, the 
book is later than Jeremiah and Ezekiel. See Strack in Herzog'9 
Encycl. vii. 433 ; and Ryle's Canon of the O.T. pp. 225 ff. 


studied as a series of prophecies addressed by an Timeline** 

. . of the 

exile in Babylon to his fellow -exiles in the last prophecy. 
decennium of the Captivity. It is from this point of 
view alone that its full significance can be realised, 
and its true meaning understood. It was a crisis in 
Israel's history of incalculable importance for the 
history of the world's redemption. At this crisis God 
raised up a prophet second to none of the older pro- 
phets save Isaiah himself, to bring home to the 
desponding spirits of the exiles a conviction of the 
grandeur of Israel's mission for the world, and of the 
certainty that Jehovah, Who had predestined Israel 
to be His Servant to accomplish this mission, would 
assuredly fulfil His purposes. If any prophecy bears 
the stamp of appropriateness to a critical epoch it is 
this. This prophet is above all a theologian. The 
message which he has to proclaim concerning Jehovah, 
and Israel's relation to Jehovah, is the central truth 
around which all his teaching is grouped. But he 
is no abstract theologian, discussing the Being and 
Attributes of God as a speculative question ; he has 
a most practical aim in view. All his teaching is bent 
on making his countrymen realise the significance of 
the approaching crisis, prepare themselves for it, 
throw themselves on Jehovah, seize the moment, and, 
rising to the occasion, fulfil their true destiny. 

It is not likely that the prophet addressed his 
message orally to large audiences. The circum- 
stances of the exiles can hardly have made this 


possible. It may have been delivered in the first 
instance to an immediate circle of disciples, but in 
order to reach the mass of the exiles it must have 
been committed to writing, and circulated to others 
who could communicate it to those immediately 
around them. But in whatever way its publication 
was effected, it is plain that it was intended for the 
whole body of the exiles in Babylon, of every class 
and character. 
character It is sometimes assumed that the Exile effected an 

of the 

exiles: immediate and complete change in the character of 
the entire people. Nothing can be further from the 
truth. Jeremiah and Ezekiel testify to the pre- 
valence of idolatry and superstition in the earlier 
years of the Exile, alike in Egypt and Babylonia. 1 
The picture which can be drawn from the pages of 
our prophet displays no radical amendment. 

*ome Some of the exiles have been absorbed by the hea- 


thenism around them. Ihey have no wish to return 
to the Holy Land. They have forsaken Jehovah, and 
forgotten His holy mountain ; they practise heathen 
superstitions and worship the heathen deities of 
Fortune and Destiny ; they contemptuously neglect 
the laws of ceremonial purity and Sabbath observance, 
which had now become of special importance as 
marking the distinction between Israel and the 
heathen ; they scorn and persecute the faithful 
worshippers of Jehovah. These stout-hearted rebels 

1 See Jer. xliv ; Ezek. xiv and xx. 


are far from righteousness ; they do not believe in 
Jehovah's purpose to redeem His people. 1 

Others professed a reverence for Jehovah's Name, some in- 


and still called themselves citizens of Zion. They 
observed the Sabbath, and kept the fasts; but their re- 
ligion was an external formalism. Like their ancestors 
in Judaea, they had no conception of Jehovah's moral 
demands, and failed to realise that He was a jealous 
God. They were guilty of gross violence and oppres- 
sion towards their poorer and weaker neighbours, 
and they did not scruple to combine heathen rites 
with the worship of Jehovah. The temptation was 
strong in the midst of a prevailing heathenism, and 
they had never broken with the evil traditions which 
they had carried with them into exile. 2 

But in the midst of these apostates and in- some faith. 

ful but 

differentists there were some true Israelites who desponding. 

feared Jehovah and obeyed the voice of His servant ; 

who followed after righteousness and sought Jehovah 

and treasured His law in their hearts ; who mourned 

for Zion's desolation, and recognised that the sufferings 

of the Exile were the merited punishment of the 

nation's sins. With these, who were of a contrite 

and humble spirit, Jehovah promises to dwell ; to 

these He proclaims the gospel of deliverance. Yet 

even these were timid and desponding; fancying 

1 See lxv. 2 ff., 11 ff. ; lxvi. 3 ff., 17 ; xlvi. 8, 12 ; xlviii. 1 ff. ; 
li. 7. On chaps, lvii, lviii, see p. 372. 

2 See xlviii. 1 ff. ; lviii. 1 ff. ; lxvi. 3. 

368 THE NEEDS lect. 

themselves forgotten and forsaken by Jehovah; 
questioning whether the fierce tyranny of Babylon 
could ever be quelled, and Israel restored to its 
ancient home. 1 
Adaptation Such were the elements among which the prophet 

of the pro- 
phecy to had to work. He had a message for all. The obiect 

their needs. ° " 

of his prophecy was not merely to comfort faithful 
Israelites by the announcement of the approaching 
deliverance from Babylon, but to prepare for that 
deliverance. The sternest rebuke alternates with 
the tenderest consolation. The most fearful descrip- 
tions of the rebels' doom are presented side by side 
with the most glorious prospects of restoration. 
Jehovah is coming to redeem His people. But the 
mass of the nation is all unfit for His advent. It is 
the prophet's task if possible to prepare them for it, 
to startle them into repentance, to inspire them with 
faith. They have no conception of Israel's calling 
and destiny ; it is His aim to convince them of its 
responsibility and its magnificence. Now or never 
is Israel's opportunity. With impassioned enthusi- 
asm he sets before them the character of the God 
with whom they have to do ; the purpose for which 
He has chosen Israel to be His servant ; the deliver- 
ance by which He designs once more to put Israel in 
a position to fulfil its mission to the world. These 
are the leading ideas round which all that he has 

1 See 1. 10 ; li. 1, 7, 12 ff. ; lxi. 1 ff. ; lxvi. 10 ; lvii, 15 ; xl. 
27 ; xlix. 14. 


to say is grouped ; and his message gains a new depth 
of meaning, it becomes instinct with fresh force, when 
we connect it with the circumstances under which 
the prophet lived and taught ; when we regard it not 
as an abstract treatise, anticipating needs which were 
to arise a century and a half after its composition, but 
as the living, burning words of one whose heart 
throbs with passionate eagerness and trembling fear 
in sight of the glorious consummation which is at 
hand, if Israel has but faith and courage to take God 
at His word and challenge Him to fulfil His promises 
to the uttermost. If the prophecy loses something in 
mere marvellousness when it is no longer regarded as 
predicting from a remote distance the circumstances 
of the Exile and the Eeturn, it gains infinitely 
more in significance and interest when it is brought 
into a vital connexion with the present needs of the 


We must then approach the study of the leading 
ideas in the Book of Consolation from the standpoint pi™ of the 

r book. 

of its immediate purpose. A rapid glance at its 
general plan and outline will facilitate this study. 
For our present purpose it may, I believe, be regarded 
as possessing a substantial unity. It is not a formal 
treatise composed at one time. There are marks of 
progress in it. Some critics think that they can trace 
the hands of more than a single author. But there 
2 B 


is, in spite of many difficulties, especially in the later 
chapters, sufficient coherence and unity of purpose to 
justify us in speaking of it as a book, and in speaking 
of its author. If, as seems almost certain, the author 
has made use of earlier prophecies, he has incorpor- 
ated them as a substantial part of his work. They 
are no mere accidental excrescences, and there seems 
no strong reason for supposing that the book was not 
completed by its original author substantially in its 
present form. 

What the plan of the work is, and how it should 
be divided, are questions not easily answered. 

At first sight the triple division of the book into 
three equal parts, which Las found much favour, is 
extremely attractive. The solemn warning at the 
close of ch. xlviii, There is no peace, saith Jehovah, 
to the wicked, repeated at the close of ch. lvii, 
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked, and 
reiterated in substance though not in words in the 
closing verse of the book which describes the doom 
of the rebels against Jehovah, has been thought to 
give the desired boundary marks. But it does so in 
appearance only. There is no real break in thought 
between chaps, lvii and lviii. The theme in both is 
the reproof of Israel's sin. 
(t > Chaps. There is however a general agreement that chapters 

xl-xlvui. o o r 

xl-xlviii form the first division of the prophecy. They 
are the "Book of Consolation" properly so called. They 
contain the prophet's first great message of good 


news in view of the approaching deliverance. Most, 
if not all, of the great ideas further developed in the 
subsequent chapters are found here in germ; but 
some subjects are treated in detail here which do not 
reappear in the later chapters. Prominent thoughts 
in these chapters, which do not recur later on, are 
the contrast between Jehovah and idols, the appeal 
to ancient prophecies in proof of Jehovah's Deity, 
the divine call of Cyrus and his triumphant career, 
the destruction of Babylon the proud oppressor. 
We may perhaps discern a more hopeful tone in these 
chapters than in those which follow. In the first 
flush of enthusiasm the prophet has hope for all his 
countrymen. It is only by degrees that he comes to 
realise that it is only the few that can be saved to 
constitute the new Israel. 

From ch. xlix onward the divisions are less 
clearly marked. It has indeed been questioned 
whether any real divisions exist. But the following 
arrangement will be found helpful for study. 

Chapters xlix-liv expand the idea of Jehovah's (a.) chaps. 


Servant, already presented in germ and outline in the 
preceding chapters. The Servant's calling, his ex- 
perience, his triumph, are successively described, and 
the section ends with a glorious picture of the final 
result of his work in the restoration and beatification 
cf Zion. It is addressed, in the main, to the faithful 
few, who are capable of appreciating in some degree 
the ideal destiny of Israel, and who long for its 



realisation. From this point onwards, the Servant of 
Jehovah is not mentioned by name, though he may 
be the speaker in ch. lxi. 1 ff. His place is taken by 
the servants of Jehovah, as though the ideal had been 
transformed into the actual, and would henceforward 
be realised in all the individual members of the 
nation. 1 
t.m.) chaps. Chapters lv-lx may be taken to form the next divi- 
sion. It opens with an invitation to accept the offered 
salvation, and an earnest call to repentance. But the 
people are slow to listen, and the prophet, borrow- 
ing the words of some earlier prophet, 2 describes the 
actual character of the nation in the past. Yet, 
in spite of all past apostasy, it is now Jehovah's 
purpose to heal Israel. Then follows a renewed 

1 See liv. 17 ; lvi. 6 ; lxiii. 17 ; lxv. 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 ; lxvi. 14 
The singular does not occur after liii. 11, nor the plural before 
liv. 17. 

2 The want of connexion with the preceding section, as well as 
the difference of style and apparently of historical circumstances in 
lvi. 9-lvii. 10, are best explained by the supposition that the passage 
is taken from some older prophet, a contemporary, perhaps, of 
Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is not, however, an interpolation, but 
is introduced by the author as a description of the causes which 
have brought Israel into its present plight. It has an application 
to those exiles who were inclined to idolatry. But the prophet 
speaks of them rather than to them. He implies that there is a 
continuity of national life, and that they are the true children of 
their ancestors, from whose guilt they have not dissociated them- 
selves by hearty repentance. 

In ch. lix. 1-8 it seems to me that the prophet is referring 
mainly to the sins of the nation before the Exile, for which 
(vv. 9 ff.) the nation is now suffering. Here, too, the prophet may 
be following older models, but to what extent is doubtful. 


summons to repentance, with an exposure of the 
hypocrisy of Israel's formal righteousness. Unre- 
pented sin is the real hindrance to the desired salva- 
tion, not impotence or unwillingness on Jehovah's 
part. He is about to appear with an irresistible 
manifestation of victorious power in judgement as 
well as mercy. Thus, and not otherwise, will the 
goal of Israel's destiny be reached. 

Eeproof and denunciation are the distinguishing 
characteristics of this section. It describes the 
hindrances to salvation in the impenitence and unre- 
ceptiveness of the mass of the nation. But Jehovah 
triumphantly overcomes these obstacles : if man will 
not co-operate with Him, His own arm will effect 
His salvation (lix. 16). The closing chapter reaches 
the same goal as the closing chapter of the preceding 
section, though Jerusalem's restoration is now con- 
sidered, not in itself merely, but in the wider aspect 
of its relation to the nations of the world. 

The last division (chapters lxi-lxvi) consists of a «».) chape 


series of addresses, some of which seem intended to 
reassure those who were cast down by the delay of 
the promised salvation, while others seem to have 
been delivered when the decree for the Eeturn had 
been issued, and the rebuilding of the Temple was 
being actually contemplated. The old promises are 
reaffirmed, but the contrast between the penitent 
who can alone enjoy them and the impenitent for 
whom nothing remains but judgement, is even more 


strongly and sternly emphasised than before. Jehovah 
Himself cannot give salvation to those who obsti- 
nately refuse its conditions. Even the Book of 
Consolation must end with a final contrast of glory 
and disgrace. 


n.eoioiju of A thorough examination of the theology of the 
{heGodof Book of Consolation would require a separate treat- 
rtraa. j ge j^\ that can be attempted here is to indicate 
some of the leading ideas which the prophet was 
taught by the Spirit of God to impress upon his 
fellow -exiles in Babylon to meet their needs in this 
momentous crisis. Consider their position. Though 
they were not slaves in the modern sense of the 
word, they had lost their liberty, and humanly 
speaking there seemed but little probability that 
they would ever regain it. They were face to face 
with a dominant heathenism, which seemed to have 
rewarded its votaries with triumphant prosperity. 
What wonder if some of them were tempted to think 
that man was stronger than God ; that after all the 
visible powers of the material world were more real 
than the unseen powers of the spiritual world ? 
What wonder if others were ready to regard Bel and 
Nebo, whom their conquerors worshipped, as equal 
or perhaps superior to Jehovah, and to fancy that 
after all it might be wisest to propitiate the gods of 
the country where they were living? Such were 


their dangers. And so the prophet sets to work to 
bring home to their minds the truth that God, and 
not man, is the supreme power ; that Jehovah is the 
one unique, incomparable God, beside Whom there is 
no other. It is not that he has any new truth to 
proclaim about Jehovah ; but just as the truths con- 
cerning the Holy Trinity were gradually defined and 
made clear as the need for definition arose from the 
propagation of false statements, and what was im- 
plicitly contained in the faith of the Gospel was 
explicitly defined so as to exclude error ; so now this 
prophet of the Exile, for the needs of his time and 
his audience, brings out into a new relief and promi- 
nence the fundamental truth of absolute monotheism, 
the truth that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is the 
one only God Who created the world, and preserves 
its order, and controls the events of history for His 
own purposes. All the prophet's teaching centres 
round the exposition of the nature and character 
of Jehovah, Who has chosen Israel to be His own 
people, to set forth His glory ; for in that nature and 
character is the ground of Israel's confidence, the 
certainty that Israel is not and cannot be forsaken. 

The contrast between the transitory impotence of (i) contrast 

f t • between God 

man and the eternal omnipotence of Jehovah is the first and man. 
point which he emphasises. In face of the apparently 
invincible might of Babylon, deliverance must have 
seemed hopeless to the' exiles. But at the very outset 
of his prophecy he proclaims this contrast for Israel's 


comfort. When the mysterious voice has announced 
the impending restoration of Israel, another voice 
bids him Cry, and when he asks What shall I 
cry? he receives the answer : All flesh is grass, and 
all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field : the 
grass withereth, the floiver fadeth ; because the breath of 
Jehovah bloweth upon it : surely the people is grass. 
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth : but the word of 
our God shall stand for ever (xl. 6 ff.). It is the 
thought upon which Israel is to reflect in view of all 
the overwhelming magnificence and power of their 
conquerors, which seems for the moment so irresist- 
ible and so permanent. 

The same thought is repeated even more emphatic- 
ally at a later point in the prophecy, when perhaps 
disappointment was beginning to be felt at the delay 
in the fulfilment of the prediction of deliverance. I, 
even I, am. He that comforteth you : who art thou, that 
thou art afraid of man that shall die, and of the son 
of man that shall be made as grass; and, hast forgotten 
Jehovah thy Maker, that stretched forth the heavens, and 
laid the foundations of the earth ; and fearcst con- 
tinually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, 
when he maJceth ready to destroy? and where is the 
fiery of the oppressor ? (li. 12, 13). 
(?) contrast But it is not so much the contrast between 


Jehovah Jehovah and man as the contrast between Jehovah 

and idols. 

and idols upon which the prophet dwells. It is thia 
which gives him occasion to set forth the omni- 


potence and wisdom and omniscience of the Creator, 
the sovereign Euler of the world, Who knows and 
declares from the beginning the final purpose of His 
will. Who, he asks, hath measured the waters in the 
hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with a span, 
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, 
and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a 
balance ? (xl. 12). The answer is obvious. None but 
Jehovah, who has assigned to the universe its form 
and dimensions, as easily as a workman measures his 
materials and plans out his work with his ordinary 
tools. Who, he continues, hath meted out the spirit 
of Jehovah, or being His counsellor hath taught Him ? 
With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, 
a.nd taught Him in the path of judgement, yea taught 
Him knowledge, and shewed Him the way of under- 
standing? (xl. 13 f.). 

Alone He planned the universe in His supreme 
wisdom ; alone He rules and maintains it all. Its 
magnificence and order bear unceasing witness to 
His power. Lift up your eyes on high, and see: 
who hath created these ? He that bringeth out their 
host by number : He calleth them all by name ; by the 
greatness of His might, and for that He is strong in 
power, not one is lacking (xl. 26). But He does not 
rule in nature only. He rules in the affairs of men. 
The Creator of the world is its Governor. It is He 
that is throned upon the circle of the earth, and the 
inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. It is He Who 


has stretched out the heavens like gauze, and spread 
them out as a tent to dwell in : that bring eth princes to 
nothing, and maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 
Scarce have they been planted, scarce have they been 
sown, scarce hath their stock taken root in the earth, 
when He bloweth upon them, and they wither, and the 
whirlwind taketh them avjay as stubble (xl. 22-24). 

To whom then will ye liken God ? or what likeness 
will ye compare unto Him ? is the prophet's indignant 
question as he points from his sublime sketch of the 
Creator and Governor of the world to the contempt- 
ible folly of a manufactured idol (xl. 18). To whom 
then xv ill ye liken Me, that I should be equal to him ? 
saith the Holy One, is the solemn repetition from God 
Himself of the prophet's question (xl. 25). 

But this truth of the sovereignty of Jehovah has 
an immediate application to present circumstances. 
The coast lands of the Mediterranean and the nations 
which are trembling before the triumphant advance 
of Cyrus are challenged to say who it is that has 
raised up this victorious hero and endowed him with 
such irresistible might. Who hath wrought and done 
it ? and the answer comes, One who calls the genera- 
tions from the beginning, planning and controlling not 
this only but all the movements of the world's 
history : / Jehovah am the first, and with the last 1 
am He (xli. 4). But in their panic the nations resort 
to their gods, and repair their idols ; and these gods 
are now arraigned, and challenged to give proof of 


their deity by shewing their foreknowledge (xli. 21 ff.). 
Let them point to predictions which have been already 
fulfilled, or predict what is yet to happen : nay, let 
them demonstrate their existence by action of any 
kind. But they are dumb. There is none that de- 
clareth, there is none that sheweth . . . even among 
them there is no counsellor, that . . . can answer a 
word (xli. 26 ff.). Jehovah claims that He has raised 
up Cyrus, and no one else knew that he was coming : 
He first proclaims to Zion the good news of approach- 
ing deliverance. 

Once more the nations are summoned, and their 
gods are challenged to produce testimony to their 
own powers of foreknowledge and of action. Who 
among them can declare this, and shew us former 
things ? let them bring their witnesses, that they may 
be justified,. But they have none ; whereas Jehovah 
can appeal to Israel as His witnesses. That mys- 
terious nation in its past history, and in the fresh 
wonders which are in store for it, is the witness to 
Jehovah's power. /, even I, have declared, and have 
saved, and have shewed, and there was no strange god 
among you : therefore ye are my witnesses, saith 
Jehovah, and I am God. Yea from this day forth lam 
He ; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand: 
I work, and who can reverse it? (xliii. 9-13). 

But Israel is slow to believe ; and once more the 
claims of Jehovah to unique Deity, and to the sover- 
eignty and foreknowledge which are the attributes of 


Deity, are asserted ; and the stupid folly of idolatry 
is signally exposed by a graphic description of the 
whole process of idol manufacture. Jehovah speaks 
as the King of Israel, and his redeemer Jehovah of 
hosts : I am the first, and I am the last ; and beside Me 
there is no God. . . . Fear ye not, neither be afraid: 
have I not declared unto thee of old, and shewed it ? and 
ye are my witnesses. Is there a God beside Me ? yea, 
there is no Rock ; I know not any. They that fashion 
a graven image are all of them vanity ; and their de- 
sirable things shall not profit : and their own witnesses 
see not, nor know ; that they may be ashamed (xliv. 6 ff). 

But Israel's King is the King of all the earth. 
When He formed the earth and established it, He 
created it not to be chaos, but formed it to be in- 
habited ; and His purpose is, and He has confirmed 
it with a solemn oath, that unto Him every knee shall 
bovj, every tongue shall swear. He claims and will 
ultimately receive the universal allegiance of all 
mankind (xlv. 18 ff.). 

The destruction of Babylon is imminent ; and as 
the prophet watches the images of her tutelary deities 
borne into a helpless captivity, he contrasts their im- 
potence with the loving care of Jehovah, who has 
borne and carried the nation of Israel from its birth. 
He makes one last appeal to the transgressors to 
ponder the course of Israel's history, and to read the 
lesson of this new deliverance which is in course of 
accomplishment. Remember the former things of old : 


for I am God, and there is none else ; I am God, and 
there is none like Me ; declaring the end from the be- 
ginning, and from ancient times things that are not 
yet done ; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will 
do all My pleasure . . . (xlvi. 9 ff.). 

Throughout the first division of the prophecy 
(chaps, xl-xlviii) this contrast between the impo- 
tence of the heathen idols and the omnipotence, 
omniscience, and sovereign purpose of Jehovah is 
repeatedly insisted on. This is the fundamental 
truth upon which Israel may depend : this can 
inspire them with hope and courage in the midst 
of the catastrophes which cause consternation to the 
nations, for these are but Jehovah's means for the 
deliverance of His people. 

All this omnipotence is being exerted on behalf of 
Israel. Jehovah has created Jacob, and formed 
Israel (xliii. 1). They are His sons and His daughters, 
whom He has created for His glory (xliii. 6, 7) : they 
are His people, His chosen, the people which He 
formed for Himself that they might set forth His 
praise (xliii. 21). Again and again the tender love 
of Jehovah for His people is described. Re shall feed 
His flock like a shepherd; even as in the days of old 
in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and 
He bare them and carried them all the days of old 
(lxiii. 9 ff.). His is more than a mother's love. Can 
a ivoman forget her sucking child, that she should 
not have compassion on the son of her womb ? 


yea, these may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 
(xlix. 15). 

There are two attributes of Jehovah, constantly 
connected in this prophecy with the redemption of 
Israel, which require special notice — His righteous- 
ness and His holiness. 

The righteousness of God is manifested in His 
deliverance of Israel. There is no contrast in the 
mind of the prophet between righteousness and 
mercy. Salvation is the correlative and companion 
of righteousness (xlv. 8 ; xlvi. 13 ; li. 5, 6, 8 ; lvi. 1). 
Jehovah is a righteous God and therefore a saviour 
(xlv. 21). For salvation is His eternal purpose ; and 
it is in conformity with that eternal purpose that He 
is delivering Israel. However He may seem for a 
time to be forced by men's sin to deviate from the 
straight line of that purpose, He is always self- 
consistent, unswayed by passion, unbiassed by par- 
tiality, undeterred from His purpose by human 
obstinacy and perversity. He has called Israel His 
servant in righteousness (xlii. 6), and He promises to 
uphold him with the right hand of His righteousness 
(xli. 10). He has raised up Cyrus in righteousness 
to execute His purpose (xlv. 13). When He comes 
triumphant from His victory over Israel's enemies 
He proclaims Himself as one that speaks in righteous- 
ness, mighty to save (lxiii. 1). The decree for the 
ultimate submission of the nations is a word that has 
gone forth from His mouth in righteousness (xlv. 23). 


Jehovah's righteousness is His conformity to that 
absolute law which God must ever be unto Himself, 
that unchanging standard of right which excludes all 
idea of caprice or variableness. It is the embodi- 
ment in action of the attribute of truth, which is the 
inalienable characteristic of Deity. 

The title the Holy One of Israel is one of the most (h)JehovaKt 


striking points of connexion between this prophecy 
and Isaiah. It was, as we have seen reason to 
believe (p. 177), coined by Isaiah ; and it is appro- 
priated by his great disciple in the Exile. The 
preservation of Israel in the Assyrian troubles when 
Jerusalem's last hour seemed at hand was the woik 
of the Holy One of Israel. The redemption of Israel 
from Babylon and her glorification are equally His 
characteristic work. Thy Redeemer is the Holy One 
of Israel is a distinctive note of this prophecy. 1 It 
is the Holy One of Israel who has sent to Babylon 
to bring down all the Chaldeans as fugitives (xliii. 
14, 15 ; cp. xlv. 11). Kedeemed Israel will glory in 
the Holy One of Israel. It is He who glorifies Zion 
(lv. 5 ; lx. 9), and the title of the city will be The 
Zion of the Holy One of Israel (lx. 14). This title 
the Holy One of Israel was a perpetual reminder of 
the character of the God who had entered into cove- 
nant with Israel. It affirmed on the one hand that 
in virtue of His essential Deity His purposes for His 
people could not be frustrated ; and on the other 

1 See xli. 14 ; xliii. 14 ; xlvii. 4 ; xlviii. 17 ; xlix. 7 ; liv &. 


hand that Israel must conform to His claim of holi- 
ness. And the prophet looks forward to the response 
of the people to Jehovah's renewed manifestation of 
His purpose towards them. 
(.5) Jehovah's It is but another way of expressing the truth that 


Israel's redemption is in accordance with the divine 
righteousness and the characteristic work of Israel's 
Holy One when it is said to be wrought for His own 
sake, or for His Name's sake (xliii. 25 ; xlviii. 9-11 ; 
cp. xlii. 8). 1 It is the outcome and issue of all that 
He is, and all that He has revealed Himself to be. 
Israel is not redeemed for any merit of its own, but 
in pursuance of an eternal purpose, in accomplish- 
ment of the unchanging divine Will and Counsel. 
(G)jehovah's As the motive of Jehovah's action is for His 


Name's sake, its rule His righteousness, its condition 
His holiness, so its final cause is His glory. The 
object of Israel's creation is His glory (xliii. 7): in 
the redemption of Israel the glory of the Lord will be 
revealed so that all flesh may see it together (xl. 5); 
when He executes vengeance, men will fear the 
name of Jehovah from the west, and His glory from 
the rising of the sun (lix. 19); Zion in her restora- 
tion will be the reflection of that glory (lx. 1, 2), and 
in the final judgement it will be manifested and 
recognised among the nations (lxvi. 18, 19). Thus all 
che dealings of God with His people and with the 
world contribute to that revelation of His Being and 

1 Comp. the teaching of Ezekiel, p. 344. 


His attributes which makes His Presence known, so 
far as men can know it, in its dazzling and tran- 
scendent splendour. 

We have seen thus far how the great prophet The Servant 

of Jehovah. 

of the Exile develops and enforces the fundamental 
truth of the Being and the character of Jehovah in 
order to reanimate the faint-hearted, to arouse the 
indifferent, to convince the apostates, among his 
hearers, in view of the approaching deliverance of 
Israel from Babylon. Side by side with this truth, 
or rather interwoven with it into one great argument, 
he sets forth the truths of God's eternal and irre- 
vocable choice of Israel to be His peculiar people, of 
the purpose with which that choice was made, and of 
the means by which that purpose is to be carried into 
effect. The Servant of Jehovah is the counterpart 
and correlative of Jehovah Himself in the prophet's 
teaching. It was a truth for the time. Israel as it 
was needed to be convinced of its mission to the 
world in order that it might seize the opportunity 
now to be offered to it of making a new step forward 
for the accomplishment of that mission, of redeeming 
the failure of past days, of responding to the divine 
call and accepting the divine commission. 

The study of the idea of the Servant of Jehovah 
presented in these chapters is beset with difficulty. 

386 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

The only method which can lead to satisfactory 
results is to examine the gradual development of 
the conception in the series of passages which treat 
of it. 
The nation The first of these is ch. xli. 8-16. The con- 

of Israel, 

ch. xii. 8-16. sternation which is being produced among the nations 
by the triumphant advance of Cyrus has just been 
described. From the nations Jehovah turns to 
address Israel. In the midst of these political con- 
vulsions Israel has nothing to fear. 

But thou,, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have 
chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend ; thou whom I 
have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called 
from the corners thereof, and unto whom I have said, 
" Thou art My servant, I have chosen thee and not cast 
thee away "; — Fear thou not, for I am with thee ; be not 
dismayed, for lam thy God : 1 will strengthen thee ; yea, 
I will help thee ; yea, I will uphold thee with the right 
hand of My righteousness. 

It is plainly the nation of Israel which is here 
styled the Servant of Jehovah. This honourable 
title is given in the Old Testament to individuals 
who were raised up to do special work, such as 
Moses the lawgiver, Joshua the conqueror of the 
Promised Land, David the founder of the true 
theocratic monarchy. And here the nation is 
regarded as a unity, chosen, called, preserved, for 
a special purpose of service to God. In spite of all 
appearances, God has not cast away His Servant 


Israel has nothing to fear. Its enemies are the 
enemies of Jehovah, and they will be utterly 
destroyed. Behold, all they that are incensed against 
thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they that 
strive tvith thee sliall be as nothing, and shall perish 
(xli. 11). 

Here the emphasis is on the choice of Israel and The 


its ultimate success in its mission. In the next mission, 

ch. xlii. 1 J 

chapter the character and object of that mission are 
described. Jehovah is the speaker. He is address- 
ing the world. He introduces to them His Servant, 
and describes His work and its method : 

Behold My servant, whom I uphold ; My chosen, in 
whom, My soul delighteth : I have put My spirit upon 
him ; he shall cause right to go forth to the nations. 
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be 
heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, 
and a failing tvick shall he not quench: he shall cause 
right to go forth in truth. He shall not fail, nor break 
down, till he have set rigid in the earth, and for his 
instruction shall the coastlands wait (xlii. 1-4). 

Then, turning to His Servant, Jehovah addresses 
him : 

Thus saith God, even Jehovah, that created the 
heavens, and stretched them forth, that spread out the 
earth, and that which cometh forth of it, that giveth 
breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that 
walk therein ; I Jehovah have called thee in righteous- 
ness, and hold thine hand, and guard thee, and give 

888 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect 

thee to he a covenant of people* a light of nations ; 
to open Mind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the 
dungeon, them that sit in darkness out of the prison 
house (xlii. 5-7). 

We have here a description of the work of 
Jehovah's Servant. But who is meant ? I cannot 
think that there is any doubt that, as in the preced- 
ing passage, Israel is meant by this title. The same 
terms are employed here as in ch. xli : here, as 
there, the Servant is described as divinely upheld, 
chosen, called. But it is, as we say, an ideal descrip- 
tion, setting forth in the sublimest terms the divine 
purpose of Israel's election. That purpose is nothing 
less than the propagation of divine right according 
to truth among all nations. It is nothing less than 
to bring universal illumination to the moral dark- 
ness of the world, universal liberation to the bond- 
slaves of ignorance and error. This victory of right 
is not to be won by force, or with pomp of attendant 
circumstance : it will not overwhelm but restore the 
weak and feeble : and this divine purpose is sealed 

1 Much confusion and difficulty have been introduced into the 
interpretation of this passage by the failure to recognise that 
people in v. 6 does not denote Israel. It must be explained 
as in v. 5, where, as in ch. xl. 7, people means mankind in 
general. It is through the work of His servant Israel that Jehovah 
wills to establish His covenant with all mankind. There is no 
reference here to the work which needs to be effected for the 
servant himself before he can accomplish the divine purpose, 
though already the language of v. 7 may be chosen in view of the 
startling paradox that the instrument designed for the world's 
liberation is itself in prison, itself needs to be set free. 


with the solemn words : I am Jehovah : that is My 
name ; and My glory will I not give to another, neither 
My praise unto graven images (xlii. 8). 

But the actual state of Israel is a strange contrast 
to its splendid destiny. It is this astonishing para- 
dox which next occupies the prophet's attention. 
The coming restoration of Israel from exile is de- 
scribed (xlii. 10-17), and then with startling abrupt- 
ness Israel — the actual Israel of the Exile — is 
addressed : 

Ye deaf, hear ! and ye blind, look, that ye may see ! The 
Wlw is blind, but My servant ? and deaf, as My failure, 

ch. xlii. 

messenger that I would send? Who is blind as My ls f- 
devoted one ? yea, blind as Jehovah's servant ? Israel, 
far from being able to open blind eyes, is itself blind. 
Far from being in a position to loose others from 
prison, they are themselves snared in holes and hid 
in prison houses. And the cause of this strange con- 
trast between the actual plight in which Israel lies 
and its ideal destiny is the chastisement which 
Jehovah has inflicted upon Israel for its wilful sin 
and disobedience (xlii. 24, 25). 

Yet, utterly as Israel has failed in its calling, sore The 

• n- • Servant's 

as has been the punishment inflicted upon it, it has restoration, 

r L eh.xliii.8ff., 

an indelible character as the Servant of Jehovah; in xl , iv .-.. 1 i^ 
spite of itself it will be carried on to fulfil its mission. 
Yet now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, Jacob, 
and He that formed thee, Israel : Fear not, for I 
have redeemed thee ; I have called thee by thy name ; 

888 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect 

thee to he a covenant of peopled a light of nations; 
to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the 
dungeon, them that sit in darkness out of the prison 
house (xlii. 5-7). 

We have here a description of the work of 
Jehovah's Servant. But who is meant ? I cannot 
think that there is any doubt that, as in the preced- 
ing passage, Israel is meant by this title. The same 
terms are employed here as in ch. xli : here, as 
there, the Servant is described as divinely upheld, 
chosen, called. But it is, as we say, an ideal descrip- 
tion, setting forth in the sublimest terms the divine 
purpose of Israel's election. That purpose is nothing 
less than the propagation of divine right according 
to truth among all nations. It is nothing less than 
to bring universal illumination to the moral dark- 
ness of the world, universal liberation to the bond- 
slaves of ignorance and error. This victory of right 
is not to be won by force, or with pomp of attendant 
circumstance : it will not overwhelm but restore the 
weak and feeble : and this divine purpose is sealed 

1 Much confusion and difficulty have been introduced into the 
interpretation of this passage by the failure to recognise that 
people in v. 6 does not denote Israel. It must be explained 
as in v. 5, where, as in ch. xl. 7, people means mankind in 
general. It is through the work of His servant Israel that Jehovah 
wills to establish His covenant with all mankind. There is no 
reference here to the work which needs to be effected for the 
servant himself before he can accomplish the divine purpose, 
though already the language of v. 7 may be chosen in view of the 
startling paradox that the instrument designed for the world's 
liberation is itself in prison, itself needs to be set free. 


with the solemn words : I am Jehovah : that is My 
name ; and My glory will I not give to another, neither 
My praise unto graven images (xlii. 8). 

But the actual state of Israel is a strange contrast 
to its splendid destiny. It is this astonishing para- 
dox which next occupies the prophet's attention. 
The coming restoration of Israel from exile is de- 
scribed (xlii. 10-17), and then with startling abrupt- 
ness Israel — the actual Israel of the Exile — is 
addressed : 

Ye deaf, hear ! and ye blind, look, that ye may see ! The 

, . i i j> tr Servant's 

Who %s blind, but My servant I and deaf, as My failure, 
messenger that I would send ? Who is blind as My 18 ff- 
devoted one ? yea, blind as Jehovah's servant ? Israel, 
far from being able to open blind eyes, is itself blind. 
Far from being in a position to loose others from 
prison, they are themselves snared in holes and hid 
in prison houses. And the cause of this strange con- 
trast between the actual plight in which Israel lies 
and its ideal destiny is the chastisement which 
Jehovah has inflicted upon Israel for its wilful sin 
and disobedience (xlii. 24, 25). 

Yet, utterly as Israel has failed in its calling, sore The 

• n- • Servant's 

as has been the punishment inflicted upon it, it has restoration, 


an indelible character as the Servant of Jehovah ; in xl , iv .-Ji- n : 

' xlvm. 20. 

spite of itself it will be carried on to fulfil its mission. 
Yet now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, Jacob, 
and He that formed thee, Israel : Fear not, for I 
have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name ; 

390 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

thou art Mine (xliii. 1). Blind and deaf as are the 
individuals who now compose the nation of Israel, 
they are still His witnesses. Their very existence 
bears testimony to His plan. Bring forth the blind 
people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. . . . 
Ye are My witnesses, saith Jehovah, and My servant 
whom I have chosen (xliii. 8, 10). 

Once more, in ch. xliv, the same thoughts are 
repeated. In spite of the repeated sins, for which its 
consecrated princes have been dishonoured, and Jacob 
made a curse, and Israel a reviling, Jehovah has not 
cast off His people. Free forgiveness awaits them. 
He will quicken them once more with a new life, and 
the nations will unite in fellowship with Israel and 
Israel's God. Here are the gracious words of 
promise : 

Yet now hear, Jacob My servant, and Israel whom 
I have chosen : thus saith Jehovah, that made thee, and 
formed thee from the womb, who will help thee : Fear 
not, Jacob My servant, and thou, Jeshurun, whom I 
have chosen. For I will pour water upon the thirsty, 
and streams upon the dry ground: I will pour My 
spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine 
offspring : and they shall spring up among the grass, 
as willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am 
Jehovah's; and another shall celebrate the name of 
Jacob ; and a third shall inscribe himself as Jehovah's, 
and surname himself with the name of Israel 
(xliv. 1-5). 


The instrument of deliverance has already been 
prepared. If Cyrus has been raised up and com- 
missioned by no less honourable a title than the 
Anointed of Jehovah (xlv. 1), it is for the sake of 
Jacob His Servant, and of Israel His chosen, that 
Jehovah has called him by his name (xlv. 4). And 
when the exiles march forth from Babylon in their 
new Exodus, the triumph song which is to be re- 
echoed even to the end of the earth is this, Jehovah 
hath redeemed Sis servant Jacob (xlviii. 20). 

Thus far — to the end of the first division of the The ideal 

..,.,. . „ T ..... Servant, 

prophecy — it is plainly the nation ot Israel which is ch.xiix.i, 
spoken of as the Servant of Jehovah. Israel is the 
people which He has chosen to fulfil His purposes 
for the world, and in spite of its utter failure in its 
mission, Israel remains His Servant ; it cannot be 
abandoned ; it is to be redeemed and restored to its 
own land that it may fulfil its destiny as the bearer 
of salvation to the ends of the earth. Jehovah's 
essential character and His relation to Israel are the 
guarantees that Israel's mission must, in some way or 
other, be accomplished. 

But how can this be ? Israel itself needs to be 
converted ; atonement must be made for Israel's sin 
before it can fulfil its mission to the world ; and 
thus in a second group of passages, extending from 
ch. xlix to ch. liii, we have a fresh presentation of 
the Servant's work. That work is now described as 
beginning with Israel itself, and extending from 

392 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

Israel to the nations. In spite of Israel's failure and 
humiliation the true Servant of Jehovah is hidden 
within it. In the opening of this new division of 
the prophecy he speaks, addressing the nations, and 
describing his calling and his work, his seeming 
present failure and his certain ultimate success. 

Listen, coastlands, unto me ; and hearken, ye 
•peoples, from far: Jehovah called me from the womb ; 
from the bowels of my mother He made mention of my 
name : and He hath made my mouth like a sharp 
sword, in the shadou) of His hand hath He hid me ; 
and He hath made me a polished arrow, in His quiver 
hath He concealed me ; and He said unto me, Thou 
art my servant ; Israel, in whom I will be glorified. 
But I — / said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent 
my strength for nought and vanity : yet surely my 
judgement is with Jehovah, and my recompence is with 
my God. And now saith Jehovah that formed me 
from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back 
to Him, and that Israel may be gathered unto Him . . . 
yea, He saith, It is too light a thing that thou shouldest 
be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to 
restore the preserved of Israel : yea, I will make thee 
a light of the nations, that thou mayest be My salvation 
unto the end of the earth (xlix. 1-6). 

At first sight it might be supposed that the pro- 
phet is the speaker. But this is clearly not the 
case. The Servant of Jehovah who speaks is still 
identified with Israel (v. 3). But in what sense ? 


For this Servant's first work is for Israel itself, to 
raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the pre- 
served of Israel. He is therefore at once identified 
with and distinguished from Israel ; and it would 
seem that Israel must be used in a narrower and a 
wider sense of the ideal Israel according to the 
divine calling and purpose, and the actual Israel 
sunk for the most part in indifference and unbelief. 
Hidden within the nation there is the true Israel, 
ready to fulfil its calling as the Servant of Jehovah ; 
the faithful few, who alone really deserve the name 
of Israel ; and it is through this element within the 
nation that it can be saved and restored and led on 
to fulfil its calling. This element corresponds to the 
holy seed which Isaiah foretold would preserve the life 
of Israel through the time of desolating catastrophe 
(vi. 11-13); and in the name of this element which 
he represents, and not for himself alone, or for any 
single individual, the prophet speaks. 

Once more in ch. 1. the Servant speaks, describ- nu 


ing his divine equipment, his vocation, his experience ch - '■ hff. ' 
of shameful rebuff and persecution, his certainty of 
ultimate triumph in the divine strength. 

The Lord Jehovah hath given me a disciple's tongue, 
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a 
word: He wakeneth morning by morning, wakeneth 
mine ear to hear as disciples do. The lord Jehovah 
hath opened mine ear, and I — / was not rebellious, I 
turned not away backward. I gave my back to the 

394 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

smiters, and my checks to those who plucked out the hair ; 
I hid not my face from insidt and spitting. But 
the Lord Jehovah will help me: therefore have 1 
not been confounded ; therefore have I set my face like, 
a flint, and I knoiv that I shall not be ashamed. He 
is near that justifieth me ; who will contend with me ? 
let vs stand up together : who is mine adversary? let 
him approach me. Behold, the Lord Jehovah will help 
me : who is he that shall condemn me ? behold, they all 
shall wax old as a garment ; the moth shall eat them 
up (1. 4-9). 

It is the Servant who speaks ; and God Himself, 
addressing the faithful few, sets His seal to the 
Servant's mission. Who is among you that feareth 
Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice of His servant ? though 
lie liath walked in darkness, and hath had no light, let 
him trust in the name of Jehovah, and stay himself 
upon his God (1. 10). 

If this passage stood alone we might again sup- 
pose that it referred to the prophet himself; hut it 
must be taken along with the other passages of the 
series ; and when we remember the strong sense of 
solidaiity in ancient Israel, we shall find no difficulty 
in seeing that the prophet speaks not for himself 
only, but as the mouthpiece and representative of 
that true Israel, which, as we have seen, is spoken of 
in ch. xlix as Jehovah's Servant. 

Thus, step by step, we are led up to that sacred 
passage in which the prophet's teaching concerning 


the Servant of Jehovah culminates. The exodus victory 


from Babylon is assumed to have taken place (Hi. "jffyfi 
7-12). Jehovah hath made bare His holy arm in the lm - 
sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth 
see the salvation of our God (Hi. 10). Then once 
more the prophetic discourse reverts to the Servant ; 
but whereas before he was himself introduced as 
speaking, it is now Jehovah AVho speaks, and 
describes the issue of his work. His success and 
exaltation will be proportionate to his humiliation, 
exciting the astonishment of nations and kings, who 
are struck dumb with amazement at this unexpected 
sight (lii. 1.3-15). But it is not to the nations only 
that it is a surprise. Speaking in the name of his com- 
patriots the prophet laments the general incredulity 
with which he had been received. Who in Israel 
had believed the announcement made to them ? For 
he had no outward attractiveness ; nay, he was de- 
spised and rejected of men, he was as some loathsome 
sufferer, from whom men turn in abhorrence (liii. 1-3). 
Penitently they confess their blindness as they re- 
cognise that he suffered not for his own sin but for 
the sin of the people, on behalf of those who thought 
him the object of God's especial wrath (liii. 4-6). 

The grossest maltreatment he met with uncom- 
plaining resignation : he perished, unregarded, by a 
violent death, and innocent as he was, he shared the 
grave of oppressors and malefactors (vv. 7-9). 

But in sharpest contrast to his apparent fate is his 

396 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lect. 

real destiny, for lie suffered by Jehovah's will, and 
through death victorious over death he makes atone- 
ment for the transgressors with whom he was 
reckoned ; and he whom men condemned as a 
malefactor proves to be their Saviour and Inter- 
cessor (w. 10-12). 

Of whom speaketh the prophet this ? Is the portrait 
here drawn that of " an individual figure in which 
all the attributes of the Servant culminate," or is it 
" an ideal figure, which is the impersonation of Israel's 
ideal character, and which he represents as accom- 
plishing what Israel, as he knew it, had left un- 
achieved ? " 2 

To attempt precise definition may perhaps be too 
great a refinement, a drawing of distinctions which 
would not have been present to the prophet's mind. 
Person or personification, this at least is the culmina- 
tion of the idea of Israel as the Servant of Jehovah, 
whether he expected the features of the portrait to 
be realised in a single individual or in the restored 
and purified nation. It represents the ideal Servant 
perfectly fulfilling his work. It shews how that 
work must be accomplished in the face of misunder- 
standing and opposition and persecution; how re- 
demption can only be achieved through vicarious 
suffering, life can only be won through death. It is 
possible that some features in that portrait were 
taken from the actual experience of prophets and 

' Driver, Isaiah, p. 178. 


other faithful servants of God, and united in an 
ideal combination ; that it sums up the experiences 
of the past, and through them points forward to the 
future. The significance of that portrait for the 
prophet's contemporaries was that it expressed the 
certain assurance that the purpose for which Israel 
had been created and chosen and preserved would 
not fail of its accomplishment. It is upon the basis 
of the atonement made by the Servant that the glow- 
ing description in chap, liv of Zion's restoration in a 
covenant which is never to be broken rests. When 
Israel has confessed its sin, and recognised the work 
of the Servant in and for it, it can fulfil its mission 
and become the mother of the universal church. It 
is noteworthy that the Servant of Jehovah is not 
mentioned again. Instead of " the Servant," collective 
or individual, we meet with " the servants," * as though 
in the restored Israel every individual would in his 
part fulfil the vocation of the whole. 

Whatever may have been the precise idea which Fulfilment 

in Christ. 

the prophet's portrait of the suffering and triumphant 
Servant of Jehovah conveyed to himself and his con- 
temporaries — and it is impossible for us to tell how 
far they were allowed to see into the mysterious 
truth which it foreshadowed — we who read it in the 
light of its fulfilment cannot doubt that it was 
intended by the Holy Spirit to point forward to 
Christ. In Him alone it receives its complete 

1 liv. 17 ; lvi. 6 ; lxiii. 17 ; lxv. 8, 9, 13, 14 15 ; lxvi. 14. 

398 ISAIAH XL-LXVI lkot. 

explanation. He takes up the work which Israel 
could not do. As Israel's ideal representative, He 
sums up in Himself and carries out to its fullest 
development all that every true Israelite, every 
faithful prophet, every patient martyr had foreshewn, 
in many parts and in many fashions, of the Servant's 
work. Israel was " the Messianic nation " ; and the 
Messiah who came in the fulness of times was the 
true and perfect Servant, whose redemptive work 
was exercised for His own people first, and then for 
the world. He was the final outcome and develop- 
ment of Israel ; yet no mere natural product or 
spontaneous development, but the divinely fore- 
ordained and divinely given crown and consumma- 
tion of the nation's history. 

There is no prophecy in the whole of the Old 
Testament which offers a more convincing proof, 
not only of God's foreknowledge and purpose, but 
of His communication of it to man through His 
prophets ; and when a recent historian of Israel 
can say that " when the ancient Church interprets 
the passage of the sufferings and death of the 
Messiah it does it violence, taking what is said about 
the past history of Israel for a prophecy of the future 
destiny of the Messianic King," * he betrays that he 
has failed to grasp the fundamental principle of the 
organic unity of the Old and New Testaments, and 
the relation of the history of Israel to that gradual 

1 Stade, Gesch, des Volkes Israel, ii. p. 79. 


unfolding of salvation which is consummated in 

But we must not hastily conclude that because, 
in the light of its fulfilment, this meaning of the 
prophecy is clear to us, it was also clear to the 
prophet and his contemporaries. Nay, we know that 
the idea of a suffering Messiah was abhorrent to the 
minds even of the disciples. All their thoughts were 
concentrated on the type of the Messianic King, and 
it was only as they pondered on the facts of the 
Lord's life in the early days after Pentecost that they 
were brought to see how the prophecies of the suffer- 
ing Servant and the victorious King were united in 
the one Person of Him who reigned from the tree. 

It is natural for us to regard this great prophecy, 
and indeed the whole series of prophecies, in the 
light of its fulfilment only, as it applies to Christ. 
It is easier to do so ; but in so doing we lose some- 
thing of the full understanding of the methods by 
which God taught His people of old, and revived 
and strengthened their faith. For once more be it 
observed that this whole exposition of the calling and 
the work and the victory of the Servant of the Lord 
was a truth for the time. At this crisis in Israel's 
history those who had ears to hear needed to be 
taught what was the calling of their nation, what 
was the purpose for which it had been so wonderfully 
created and preserved through all vicissitudes. They 
needed to be assured that in spite of Israel's failure, 


the divine purpose would be victoriously accom- 

More than they could have hoped has already 
been fulfilled ; and in that fulfilment is the guarantee 
for us that God's purposes are moving towards a 
consummation greater and more glorious than aught 
that we can dare to imagine. 


Eschato The immediate purpose of the prophet was, as we 

have seen, to comfort the exiles in Babylon with the 
assurance of their speedy deliverance, to interpret 
to them the significance of Israel's vocation, to pre- 
pare them to rise to the occasion, and, responding to 
the call of God, fulfil their destiny. So, while the 
restoration of the exiles to their own land occupies 
the foreground of his picture, the distance is radiant 
with a splendid vision of the glorious future which 
awaits Zion when it achieves its mission to the world. 
In the first division of the prophecy (chapters xl- 
xlviii), which forms the Book of Consolation in the 
stricter sense, the coming deliverance from Babylon 
is naturally most prominent; but the thoughts of 
the ultimate consequences of that deliverance are 
already present in germ and outline, to be developed 
and expanded in the later chapters of the book. 
The Exodus The approaching deliverance will be a second 
ten. Exodus. Jeremiah had predicted that its fame would 


eclipse that of the first Exodus. Behold the days 
come, saith Jehovah, that it shall no more be said, As 
Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel 
out of the land of Egypt ; but, As Jehovah liveth, that 
brought up the children of Israel from the land of the 
north, and from all the countries whither He had driven 
them (Jer. xvi. 14, 15 ; xxiii. 7, 8). Our prophet 
repeatedly refers to the comparison. 1 It is a signifi- 
cant one. The nation was " born" in the first Exodus : 
in this second Exodus it is to be born again. This 
restoration is to be the initiation of a new order. 
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new 
things do I declare : before they spring forth I tell you 
of them (xlii. 9 ; xliii. 19 ; xlviii. 6). Jehovah will 
once more lead His people through the wilderness 
with signs and wonders (xl. 3 ff.) ; but whereas in the 
first Exodus they came forth in haste (Deut. xvi. 3 ; 
Exod. xii. 11), and carried with them the contamina- 
tion of the land of their sojourn, they are not to go 
out in haste or by flight ; they are to touch no unclean 
thing (lii. 11, 12). Those who bear the vessels of 
Jehovah are bidden to be clean. Jehovah will return 
to Zion, and once more establish His kingdom there 
in the sight of all the nations (lii. 7-10). Babylon is 
to be put to eternal shame ; Zion is to be glorified 
with everlasting glory. Babylon's gods are dethroned 
and dishonoured ; Zion's God is supremely exalted 
and recognised as the sole sovereign of the world. 

1 See xl. 3 ff. ; xlviii. 20 f. ; li. 9 ff. ; lii. 11, 12; lv. 12. 



The restom- Spiritual revival follows upon outward restoration ; 

Hon of Zion 

and acce.«s- but the greatest dory of the restored Zion will be 

urn oj the ° o «/ 

natwm. ^ e access i on f the nations, which crowd to do her 
homage, and confess that Jehovah is the only true 
Deity. Surely God is in thee; and there is none 
else, there is no god. The universal homage which 
He demands will ultimately be paid Him (xliv. 3 ff.; 
xlv. 14, 18-25). 

In the later chapters of the book the restoration 
and its consequences are depicted in fuller detail 
in a series of passages, each of which surpasses the 
preceding one in glowing enthusiasm and magnificent 

The first work of the true Servant of Jehovah, 
hidden within the nation, is, as we have seen, to raise 
up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel 
(xlix. 6). Zion's children are restored to her (xlix. 
14 ff.). She can scarcely believe the sight; but 
Jehovah's love is inalienable; and her waste and 
desolate places and her land that has been destroyed 
shall now be too strait for the inhabitants. At 
Jehovah's summons the nations bring them back, 
and their great ones wait to do them service (xlix. 
22 ff.). Nature welcomes them ; the curse of barren- 
ness is removed ; and Jehovah makes Zion's wilder- 
ness like Eden, and her desert like the garden oj 
Jehovah (li. 3). 

Jerusalem's persecutors will receive their just 
recompence : she will no more be profaned, but hence- 


forth will be the holy city, into which there shall no 
more come the uncircumcised and unclean (li. 17 ff. ; 
Hi. 1 ff.)- 

A still more glowing picture of Zion's restoration ch. m 
follows immediately upon the culminating descrip- 
tion of the suffering and victory of the Servant of 
Jehovah. She is to exult once more in the multitude 
of her children : she will spread abroad on the right 
hand and on the left ; and her seed will possess the 
nations. Jehovah's wrath has rested upon her for a 
moment, but His mercy will be everlasting. The 
mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but 
My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall 
My covenant of peace be removed, saith Jehovah that 
hath mercy on thee (liv. 10). The outward beauty of 
the new Jerusalem, glistening with precious stones, 
will find its counterpart in the spiritual perfection of 
her children, when they realise in fact the character 
and calling of the servants of Jehovah (liv. 11-17). 

Strangely different indeed, the prophet knows, has 
been and is the character of the mass of the nation 
which bears the honourable title the Servant of 
JeJwvah; yet his faith is unshaken that Jehovah 
cannot desert His people or fail in His purpose. 
When there is none to interpose, His own arm brings 
salvation unto Him. The covenant cannot be broken. 
A redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn 
from transgression in Jacob, saith Jehovah. And as 
for Mc, this is My covenant with them, saith Jehovah: 


My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have 
put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, 
nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth 
of thy seed's seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and 
for ever (lix. 20, 21). 
Ch. ix. It is under these conditions that the divine glory 
dawns upon Zion, and as she shines with that 
celestial brightness, she becomes the light of the 
world which lies in darkness. She draws the nations 
to herself, and they bring back her scattered children. 
The treasures of the world are offered to do honour to 
Jehovah. All that is most costly and beautiful is 
brought to beautify the place of His sanctuary. 
Strangers build up her walls, and their kings minister 
to her. The sons of those who once oppressed her 
now pay her homage. Prosperity, peace, divine 
illumination, universal righteousness, distinguish the 
restored city and people. Her glory and her blessed- 
ness know neither limit nor end. The vision reaches 
into the far distance ; and then the prophet, return- 
ing to the present, proclaims the ministry of 
restoration which has been committed to him. 1 He 

1 Opinions are divided whether the speaker in ch. lxi. 1 ff. is 
the prophet himself or the Servant of Jehovah. The Targum 
assigns the words to the prophet, and this I believe to be the 
correct view. It is true that the Servant is endowed with the 
Spirit, commissioned to raise up the downcast and release the 
prisoners. But nothing here goes beyond what the prophet might 
say of himself. The office of the speaker here is to proclaim, not 
to mediate, salvation. Elsewhere, when the Servant is introduced, 
he is designated by his title. He disappears from the book after 


assures his fellow-exiles of the double recompence of 
honour which awaits them for the shame they have 
suffered. Israel will fulfil its calling as a nation of 
priests, 1 and the nations will serve them. The 
patriarchal promise will be realised. All that see 
them shall acknotdedge them, that they are the seed 
which Jehovah hath blessed (lxi. 9). 

Glorious as are these hopes for the future, they chaps.ixio- 

r J Ixvi. 

cannot remain unchequered and unqualified. The 
actual state of Israel forbids such optimism. The 
nations may still persist in antagonism to Jehovah 
and His people. And so in the closing chapters 
of the book the thoughts of judgement and salva- 
tion alternate with strange abruptness. Jehovah's 
triumphant return from executing vengeance upon 
Edom is a type and example of the universal judge- 
ment which awaits His adversaries. And when the 
prophet pleads in the name of the church of the 
Exile for the speedy fulfilment of the promises of 
restoration (ch. lxv), Jehovah points him to the 
apostate and rebellious element in Israel which 
hinders the coming of salvation, and warns them 
that for them nothing but judgement is in store 
(lxvi. 1 ff.). It is not all Israel that will be saved : 

chap, liii, and it would be strange that he should be reintroduced 
here without being named. And in these closing chanters the 
personality of the prophet does not lie so entirely in the back- 
ground as it does in the earlier part of the book. This view does 
not affect the application of the prophecy by our Lord to Himself 
(St. Luke iv. 21). 

1 Isaiah lxi. 6 ; cp. Exod. xix. 6. 


the enemies of Jehovah within His people will share 
the fate of those outside it. But the remnant of the 
nations which survives the judgement will declare 
Jehovah's glory to the yet more distant nations. 
They will bring the dispersed Israelites home to 
Jerusalem as the most acceptable offering they can 
present, and Jerusalem will be at once the centre of 
universal worship and the scene of a final judgement 
(lxvi. 18 ff.). 

The prophet's picture of the future contemplates 
the inauguration of a new age with the restoration of 
Israel. He looks for new heavens and a new earth 
(lxv. 17, 18). The restored Jerusalem is a new 
creation. It is radiant with a splendour which is 
more than earthly. The peace of paradise is restored 
(lxv. 25). The curse of sin is annulled. Yet even 
so death is not abolished, though its penal character 
is at an end (lxv. 20). The final consummation and 
restoration of all things is not yet attained. 


The When we compare the prophet's glowing antici- 

(ulfilmcnt _ 

pations of Israel s future with the actual course of 
history we are disappointed. The prophet's antici- 
pations appear to be closely connected with the 
Keturn. The immediate result fell far short of 
them. Much was long deferred. Much still 
remains unrealised. Was he not then a true 


prophet ? Here as elsewhere it is necessary to con- 
sider carefully the character, limitations, and con- 
ditions of prophecy. First, it is clear that some of 
the language used is not plain matter-of-fact prose, 
but highly imaginative poetry. It is not necessary 
to suppose that the prophet expected that a road 
would be actually levelled through the desert, or 
that miraculous springs of water would burst forth 
on the track of the returning exiles, or that the 
walls of Jerusalem would be adorned with precious 
stones. Next it is necessary to take account of 
what has been called the perspective of prophecy. 
The prophet was taught to see the immense signifi- 
cance of the Eeturn as ushering in a new era and 
marking a fresh step in the evolution of God's 
purposes of salvation for the world. But he was not 
instructed to distinguish the successive moments in 
that great vision of salvation which rose before his 
view. He connected the complete realisation of all 
the promises to Israel with the Eeturn from Babylon, 
as his predecessors had connected the establishment 
of the Messianic kingdom with the deliverance from 
the Assyrian troubles. As vast ages of the past 
are concentrated into the vision of successive days 
in the story of creation, so long ages of the future are 
foreshortened in a series of pictures which seem to 
be immediate and simultaneous, until the course of 
events shews that they represent successive ages of 
long duration and slow development. The prophet's 


language is that of the immediate hopes and circum- 
stances of the time. Jerusalem is regarded as the 
centre of all the world's worship : to the actual 
Jerusalem is attached all the vision of glory which 
fills the prophet's mind with its splendour. But the 
truths which his words convey reach far beyond the 
local and material city. They supply much of the 
language and the imagery which is adopted in the 
Apocalypse to describe the spiritual Jerusalem ; and 
only in the spiritual city of the perfected church will 
they find their complete fulfilment. 

Once more, in comparing prophecy with fulfil- 
ment the conditional character of prophecy must be 
taken into account. How far the nation as a whole 
was from thorough repentance is evident from the 
words of the prophet himself. Indeed it seems 
plain from the later chapters of the book that as 
the time of deliverance drew near, he saw with 
increasing clearness that the sin and apathy of the 
mass of the exiles were a fatal bar to the immediate 
and complete realisation of all that he had foretold. 
It was only a fraction of the Israelites in Babylon 
who had faith to accept the challenge of Cyrus, and 
return to build the house of God. Those who did 
return were for the most part, as the pages of Haggai 
and Zechariah abundantly shew, slack and selfish ; 
slow to realise the great issues which depended 
on their action, and to draw upon the treasury of 
divine power which was open to their prayers. The 


pages of Nehemiah and Malachi bear witness how- 
soon they fell into graver offences. Thus Israel's 
failure hindered the free action of divine grace. 
God could not do His mighty work then because of 
their unbelief. 

Yet shall we think him less a true prophet 
because the picture of the future which he drew 
was possibility rather than actuality, the divine 
ideal (albeit expressed in terms of the circumstances 
of the time) rather than the reality to which men 
were capable of attaining ? 

Nay, surely : for when to human foresight Israel's 
return was at best uncertain, he predicted it with 
unwavering confidence. When to human view the 
return of a few thousands of Jews from Babylon to 
Judaea must have seemed a matter of absolute in- 
difference, he affirmed that it was fraught with 
world-wide consequences for the salvation of man- 
kind. When the work of Israel as the Servant of 
Jehovah seemed to have ended in blank failure, he 
drew that marvellous portrait of Him in whom 
Israel's history culminated ; who Himself achieved 
the work in which Israel failed, wrought out salva- 
tion for the world, and through death brought life 
to all mankind. Israel returned ; Israel survived ; 
out of Israel came salvation for mankind in 
Him who is the true representative of Israel. 
Israel, though she knows it not, is greater in the 
offspring who trace their spiritual descent to her 


than she ever could have been in her isolation. 
Such a prophecy was not mere human aspiration 
or bold guesswork, but the voice of the Spirit of God 
revealing beforehand, as men could receive it, the 
purpose of the ages. Truly he is the Evangelical 
Prophet, the herald of the good news of deliverance, 
not to the Israelites in Babylon only, but to the 
captives of sin in every age and country. Rightly 
are these chapters regarded as one of the most 
precious parts of the Bible, full of meaning as we 
study them in the light of their origin, fuller still 
of a larger meaning and a present significance for 
ourselves as we study them in the light of the 
revelation of God's eternal purpose of salvation in 
Christ Jesus. 





Trao-a ri 6da ypa^ij StSaV/caAo's eVriv dperfc /cat ;r«rrea>s 

All Divine Scripture is a teacher of true virtue and faith. 

S. Athanasius. 


Who hath despised the day of small tilings? — Zechariah iv. 10. 

With unwavering faith the prophets who watched Theiimiuoj 

tit • T '** Exile 

the ruin of the lemple and the destruction or Jeru- predicted. 
salem proclaimed that this catastrophe was not des- 
tined to result in a frustration of the divine purpose 
for the chosen people. Jeremiah, while he fore- 
told the inevitable certainty of the impending judge- 
ment, fixed the limits of it. Thus saith Jehovah: 
After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will 
visit you, and perform for you My good word, to cause you 
to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I 
think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and 
not of evil, to give you an hereafter and a hope (Jer. 
xxix. 10, 11). Ezekiel, as he gazed in spirit from 
the land of his banishment upon the deserted ruins 
of the Temple, saw rise before him the vision of a 
nobler building and a more perfect order of worship. 


As surely as he had beheld the departure of the divine 
glory from the desecrated Temple and city, so surely 
he beheld its return to dwell in the Holy Place 
once more (Ezek. xi. 23 ; xliii. 2 ff.). 

The seventy years of the Babylonian supremacy * 
were drawing to their close, when the strains of the 
greatest poet-prophet of Israel rang out in the ears of 
the waiting exiles : Comfort ye, comfort ye My 'people, 
saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and 
cry unto her, that her time of service is accomplished, that 
her punishment is accepted ; that she hath received of 
Jehovah's hand double for all her sins (Isa. xl. 1, 2). 
Cyrus the Already the deliverer was in full career of con- 


quest. As Nineveh had fallen before the power of 
Babylon, so Babylon yielded to the advance of 
Persia, and Cyrus became supreme monarch in 
Western Asia. 2 One of his first acts was to issue 
the proclamation which permitted the Jews to return 
to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple (Ezra i. 1-3). 

1 Seventy years is named as the duration not of the Exile but of 
the Babylonian supremacy (Jer. xxv. 11, 12 ; xxix. 10). It is ob- 
viously a round number, but from the battle of Carchemish (b.c. 
605) to the capture of Babylon (b.c. 538) was very nearly seventy 
years. Only fifty years intervened between the destruction of 
Jerusalem (586) and the first Return (537). 

2 See above, p. 356. According to the Annalistic Tablet of 
Cyrus recently discovered, "Nabonidus fled, and the soldiers of 
Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting. " Nabonidus had rendered 
himself unpopular by his religious policy, and Cyrus was welcomed 
by the Babylonian priests and people as a deliverer. The siege 
ascribed to the reign of Cyrus by Greek and Roman historians really 
took place in the reign of Darius. See Sayce, Records of the Past. 
new series, vol. v, pp. 144 ff. 


This permission was in accordance with his general 
policy. It is not improbable that he had received 
help in the conquest of Babylon from the conquered 
peoples who had been transported thither by the 
Babylonian kings, and discerning in the presence of 
such peoples a source of weakness to his empire, he 
determined to restore them to their old homes. The 
statement of Josephus (Ant. Jud. xi. 1, 2) that Cyrus 
had read the prophecies of Isaiah, and was inspired 
with an ambition to fulfil them, rests upon no sure 
foundation, and is probably nothing but that his- 
torian's own conjecture. It cannot indeed be either 
proved or disproved; and it is certainly possible 
that Cyrus was aware that the Jews in exile regarded 
him with eager expectation as their appointed de- 
liverer. But even if he was acting unconsciously, he 
was none the less the chosen instrument of Jehovah 
for carrying out His purposes of mercy toward His 

The account of the actual circumstances of the Th e R * tur * 
Beturn is disappointingly meagre, and we are left to 
fill in many details by inference or conjecture. The 
response to the invitation was by no means universal. 
But the Beturn was distinctly a national act. All the 
families settled in Babylon seem to have taken part 
in it. With one or two possible exceptions, those 
who accompanied Ezra eighty years later belonged 
to the same families as those who followed Zerubbabel. 
The new community was intended to represent all 


Israel. The twelve elders at its head (Neb., vii. 7), 
and the sacrifice offered for the twelve tribes of 
Israel at the dedication of the Temple (Ezra vi. 17), 
were significant of the spirit in which the enterprise 
was undertaken. 

But though most if not all of the families settled 
in Babylon were represented, the choice of their 
representatives was no doubt mainly determined by 
personal faith and zeal. It was those wJwse spirit God 
had stirred who volunteered for an undertaking which 
needed no small measure of courage and energy. 
Many shrank from the effort, and preferred to remain 
where they were. But they were not by any means 
all of them uninterested, or indifferent to the success 
of the movement. They supported it by rich gifts 
(Ezra i. 6), and from time to time continued to send 
offerings to Jerusalem (Zech. vi. 9 ff.); and the fact 
that men like Ezra and Nehemiah could arise among 
the exiles is proof that diligent study of the Law and 
generous zeal for the welfare of the nation continued 
to flourish among the exiles who remained behind. 
Thp leaders The numbers of the returning exiles are precisely 
Return given as 42,360 in all, together with 7337 servants, 
and 200 or 245 singing men and singing women 
(Ezra ii. 64 f. ; Neh. vii. 66 f.). The leaders of the 
company were Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and 
Joshua (or Jeshua) the son of Jozadak. Zerubbabel, 
as the actual or legal heir of Jehoiachin, was the 
representative of the house of David, and had been 


appointed governor of Judah by Cyrus (Ezra v. 14). 1 
Joshua, who held the office of High Priest, was grandson 
of Seraiah, the last High Priest who had ministered 
in the Temple at Jerusalem before its destruction. 
With them were associated ten colleagues, and this 
council of twelve elders 2 was doubtless intended to 
represent, under the altered circumstances of the 
time, the ancient tribal division of the nation. 
Zerubbabel and Joshua however were the prominent 
leaders ; of the other ten nothing further is recorded, 
unless they are to be identified with the elders of the 
Jews mentioned in Ezra v. 5, 9 ; vi. 7, 8, 14, to whom 
the satrap Tattenai addressed himself as the respon- 
sible authorities of the community at Jerusalem. To 
the special charge of the new governor were com- 
mitted the sacred vessels of the Temple which had 
been carried to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and 
were now restored by Cyrus to their proper use. 


A perilous journey of perhaps four months (cp. significance 
Ezra vii. 8, 9) brought the exiles to their ancient Return. 
home. It may well be imagined that some sense of 
disappointment depressed their spirits, as they com- 

1 See Note A, p. 435. 

2 The lists in Neh. vii. 7 and 1 Esdras v. 8 agree in giving 
twelve names. That in Ezra ii. 2 only contains eleven, and no 
doubt one has been accidentally omitted. The variations in the 
lists need not be discussed here. 

2 E 


pared the glowing pictures of the prophets with the 
actual circumstances of their march. Yet to the eye 
of faith, which could penetrate to the inner mean- 
ing of the work in which they were engaged, it must 
have seemed a triumphal procession, worthy to be 
accompanied by the most joyous songs of thanks- 
giving and the loudest Hallelujahs. As we look back 
upon it in the light of history, we see in it a move- 
ment which has shaped the destinies of the world ; 
and we know that the universal joy of nature was 
not too strong a figure to express its supreme im- 
portance. Tlie mountains and the hills shall break 
forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field 
shall clap their hands (Isa. lv. 12). 
Restoration The exiles returned from Babylon to found not a 

vf worship. 

kingdom but a Church. If ever Israel had cherished 
the hope of taking its place among the great powers 
of the world, as the world measures greatness, that 
hope had now been shattered utterly and for ever. 
They returned to found a Church: and their first 
care, after they had settled themselves in their cities, 
probably so far as was possible in their ancestral 
homes, was to restore the worship of Jehovah. In 
the seventh month of the first year of the Eeturn, 
the people gathered themselves together as one man to 
Jerusalem (Ezra iii. 1). They re-erected the altar of 
burnt offering in its place, possibly upon its ancient 
foundation ; restored the daily sacrifice, and celebrated 
the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra iii. 1-6). 


Without delay they proceeded to take in hand Rebuilding 

of the 

the great object of their mission, the Bebuilding of temple. 
the Temple. This had been specified in the decree 
of Cyrus; and for this their countrymen who re- 
mained in Babylon had freely contributed their 
offerings (Ezra i. 2 ff.; vi. 3 ff.). Preparations were 
made, which seem like a shadowy reflection of 
Solomon's vast assemblage of workmen and accumu- 
lation of materials ; and in the second month of the 
second year of the Keturn the foundation of the 
Temple was laid with solemn ceremonial of praise 
and thanksgiving. The old doxology, For Jehovah 
is good, for His mercy endureth for ever toward Israel, 
rang out with a new depth of meaning, for it had 
received a fresh verification from the strange vicissi- 
tudes of the people's history. Some however who 
had seen the house in its former glory wailed aloud 
as they contrasted these humble beginnings with 
the ancient magnificence to which their memories 
fondly clung. 1 

The work did not proceed far without opposition, me 
The heathen or half-heathen Samaritans 2 claimed opposition. 

1 See Note B, p. 436. 

2 These Samaritans must not of course be confused with the 
Samaritans of later times. They were the descendants of Assyrian 
colonists, who had mingled with such Israelites as had been left 
behind after the deportation of the northern tribes. They com- 
bined a corrupt worship of Jehovah as the God of the land with 
their own heathen worship (2 Kings xvii. 24-41). Bodies of such 
colonists seem to have been settled in Samaria by Sargon, 722-705 
(2 Kings xvii. 24 ff.) ; Esarhaddon, 681-669 (Ezra iv. 2) ; and 
Assur-bani-pal, 668-626 ( = Osnappar, Ezra iv. 10). 


the right to join in it. Their offer was rejected by 

Zerubbabel and Joshua in council with the chiefs of 

the people. That rejection has been stigmatised as 

the act of a narrow and short-sighted ecclesiastical 

bigotry ; but it is hard to see how the Samaritan offer 

could have been accepted without at once exposing 

the small and weak community to the danger of a 

corrupting idolatry. 1 Irritated by this refusal, the 

Samaritans adopted an attitude of active hostility. 

Partly by threats of violence, partly by intrigues at 

the Persian court (Ezra iv. 4 ff.), they succeeded in 

their spiteful opposition, and for some fifteen years 

the work stood still. Of the details of the history of 

that time we know nothing ; but it may be inferred 

from the language of Haggai that the stoppage of the 

work was due at least as much to want of energy on 

the part of the returned exiles themselves, as to the 

opposition which they had to encounter. Their 

courage was daunted by the first show of difficulty ; 

and care for their own comfort and even luxury 

diverted their attention from the higher duty. Their 

own houses were ceiled and panelled, while the house 

of God still lay in ruins (Haggai i. 4). They excused 

their apathy by questioning whether the time ap- 

1 It should be noted that although they were compelled to 
refuse the co-operation of the Samaritans as a body, individuals 
were not repelled from sharing the religious privileges of the new 
community. Not only the returned exiles, but " all such as had 
separated themselves unto them from the lilthiness of the heathen 
of the land," took part in the dedication of the Temple (Ezra 
vi. 21). 


pointed in the divine counsels for the restoration of 
the Temple had yet arrived. The time is not come, 
they said, Jor Jehovah's house to be built. Perhaps 
they satisfied their consciences with the thought that 
the full term of seventy years had not yet run its 
course since the destruction of the Temple. 


It was a grave crisis in the history of the com- Ministry of 

mi • ii •!• i i Haggai ana 

munity. They were rapidly reconciling themselves Zechariah. 
to an existence without a Temple : yet existence 
without a Temple would have meant (humanly 
speaking) the extinction of the national religion. 

The catastrophe was averted by a providential 
combination of circumstances. The prophets Haggai 
and Zechariah were raised up to recall the people to 
the sense of their duty. Drought and famine aroused 
their consciences, and disposed them to listen to the 
prophets' message. The recent accession of Darius 
gave at least a hope of a changed policy on the part 
of the government. 

The extant prophecies of Haggai were delivered 
within a period of four months, in the sixth, seventh, 
and ninth months of the second year of the reign of 
Darius, B.C. 520. Zechariah's first prophecy falls 
within the same period, in the eighth month of the 
same year ; his great series of visions is dated just 
two months later than the last of Haggai's utter- 


ances ; and the last of the prophecies which can be 
assigned to him with certainty followed after an 
interval of two years. 1 

Haggax. Haggai's commission was, as we have seen, mainly 
concerned with the rebuilding of the Temple. His 
first message (i. 1-11) was addressed to the people 
through their civil and spiritual leaders, Zerubbabel 
and Joshua. It was delivered on the first day of the 
sixth month (Elul = Aug.-Sept.), when the people 
would be assembled for the festival of the New Moon. 
He censured them for their culpable delay in rebuild- 
ing the Temple. They pleaded that the time was 
not yet come for it; but they could build and 
decorate houses for themselves, while Jehovah's 
house still remained in ruins. The drought and 
scarcity from which they had suffered were the 
chastisement of their negligence. 

ne work The reproof bore fruit. Before the month expired, 


the work was resumed. The obedience of the people 
was encouraged by the assurance of the divine co- 
operation. / am with you, saith Jehovah, was the 
brief but sufficient message which Haggai, Jehovah's 
messenger, was commissioned to deliver (i. 13). 

But as when the foundation of the Temple was 
laid, hope for the future could not efface regret for the 
past, and the loud wailings of the old men were 

1 The last six chapters of the Book of Zechariah are wholly 
different in style and character. They appear to be the work of 
another writer or, more probably, of two writers, and will be con- 
sidered separately in Lecture XV. 


mingled in strange discord with the joyous shouts 
of the younger and more sanguine, so now there were 
not wanting pessimists who daunted the spirit of the 
builders by contrasting the humble beginnings of 
their work with the magnificence of the former 
Temple which they could still remember. This new 
Temple was in their eyes as nothing. 

And so, a month after the work had been recom- 
menced, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month 
(Tisri or Ethanim = Sept.-Oct.), a fresh message came 
to Haggai. It was the seventh day of the Feast of 
Tabernacles, and Haggai doubtless spoke publicly to 
the assembled people. The assurance of the con- 
tinued Presence of Jehovah and His spirit x with 
them, in fulfilment of the covenant made with the 
nation at the Exodus, was repeated ; and a prediction 
was added that through the offerings of the Gentiles 
the latter glory of the house should be greater than 
the former. Jehovah would overrule impending 
convulsions among the nations of the world to effect 
His purposes, and in that place He would give peace. 

Zechariah now came forward to support Haggai ; zechariah 

1 The meaning of ch. ii. 4, 5 has been obscured by au unfor- 
tunate division of the verses. Render, For I am with you, saith 
Jehovah of hosts {according to the word that I covenanted with you 
when ye came out of Egypt), and my spirit abideth among you : fear 
ye not. The clause, according to the word . . . Egypt, may be a 
gloss, for it is omitted by the LXX, and is very loosely attached 
to the rest of the sentence. But if it is genuine, it must be taken 
as parenthetical, and we must connect the clauses, 1 am with you, 
. . . and my spirit abideth among you. With the latter clause 
cp. Zech. iv. 6. 


and appealing to the lessons of history, exhorted the 
people not to be as their forefathers, who turned a 
deaf ear to the warnings of the former prophets 
(Zech. i. 1-6). 

On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month 
(Chislev = ~Nov.-T)ec.) Haggai spoke again. By the 
analogy of an instance taken from the ceremonial 
law he shewed the people how both they and the 
land had been defiled by neglect of their most press- 
ing duty, and promised them a blessing on their 
return to it. 

The same day he brought a special message to 
Zerubbabel, the founder of the Temple, assuring 
him that he, and the community which he repre- 
sented, were the chosen objects of divine care, and 
would be preserved unharmed in the midst of the 
convulsions which would destroy surrounding nations 
Zerubbabel is addressed by the lofty title of Jehovah's 
servant. The doom pronounced on Jeconiah (Jer. 
xxii. 24) is reversed, and Zerubbabel, as the re- 
presentative of the house of David, is restored to 
the position of Jehovah's signet ; — His most highly- 
prized and carefully-guarded possession, in closest 
contact with its owner, His means of attesting His 
words and utterances. 


zechariahs Here the recorded ministry of Haggai ends. 
Just two months later, upon the twenty-fourth 



day of the eleventh month (Shebat = Jan.-Feb.), 
Zechariah saw his great series of visions, directed in 
the main to enforce the same truths which Haggai 
had proclaimed. 

In the first vision (i. 7-17) he saw Jehovah's (i)The 


messengers, who had traversed the earth, reporting 
to the angel of Jehovah that the whole earth was at 
rest ; and when the angel interceded for Jerusalem 
he was answered by the assurance of Jehovah's 
displeasure at the malicious delight which the 
heathen had taken in Israel's affliction, and of His 
jealous love for the people of His choice. The time 
has come for Temple and city to be rebuilt. I have 
returned to Jerusalem in mercy ; My house shall be 
built in it, saith Jehovah of Hosts, and a line shall be 
stretched forth over Jerusalem. . . . Jehovah shall 
again comfort Zion, and shall again choose Jerusalem 
(i. 16, 17). 

The scene changed, and four horns of iron, («> The 

horns and 

symbols of the powers which had scattered Israel, the smiths. 
met the prophet's eye. Beside them stood four 
smiths — each we may imagine with uplifted hammer 
— ready to shatter the horns in pieces. So should 
the nations which had destroyed Israel be them- 
selves destroyed. 

The vision faded, and in its place appeared a man (s> The man 

with the 

with a measuring line in his hand, going to measure measuring 
& ' o o Hne 

Jerusalem. But he is told by an angel that his 
task is futile, for Jerusalem will spread beyond the 


limit of walls, and will need no such material 
defences. For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a 
wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in 
the midst of her (ii. 5). Jerusalem is to be the 
centre of the world's worship, when Jehovah's 
Presence is manifested in her midst. Sing and 
rejoice, daughter of Zion : for lo, I come, and I will 
dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And 
many nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that 
day, and they shall be unto Me for a people : and 1 
will dwell in the midst of thee (ii. 10, 11). 
(4) The trial But Israel's present humiliation was in sharpest 

of Joshua. 

contrast to that future glory, and comfort for the 
present distress was urgently needed. Accordingly 
in the next vision the prophet saw Joshua the 
High Priest, the people's spiritual representative, 
arraigned at the bar of heaven, and Satan or the 
Adversary standing at his right hand to accuse him. 
His sordid garments marked him as the sinful 
representative of a sinful people, but the Adversary 
who demanded his condemnation was sternly rebuked. 
Jehovah rebuke thee, Satan; yea, Jehovah that 
chooseth Jerusalem rebuke thee : is not this a brand 
plucked out of the fire ? (iii. 2). 

The nation which Joshua represented had just 
been saved by an act of divine grace from being 
utterly consumed in the furnace of the exile. Was 
it fitting then that Satan should challenge God's 
purpose of mercy, and seek to bring Israel's sin to 


remembrance ? So the sentence of pardon is pro- 
nounced. Joshua's filthy garments are exchanged 
for rich apparel, and a fair mitre is set upon his 
head, as the outward token of his acceptance. He is 
promised the right of access among those who stand 
round the heavenly throne ; and he and his com- 
panions are declared to be types of One greater 
than themselves ; even the Branch, the Shoot or 
Sprout from the stock of David, of whom Jeremiah's 
prophecy had spoken nearly a century before (iii. 4 ff.). 1 

Thus Joshua was encouraged in his work of (5) The 


priestly intercession. The next vision (ch. iv) was chandeiiet 
designed to give similar encouragement to his 
colleague Zerubbabel. A golden chandelier rose 

© © 

before the prophet's eye. Each of its seven lamps 
was connected with the central reservoir of oil. 
Beside it stood two olive trees. From two over- 
hanging branches of the trees, a perpetual supply 
of oil was distilled into the reservoir. The precise 
meaning of the details of the vision is obscure ; 2 but 
its general purpose cannot be mistaken. It conveyed 
Jehovah's message to Zerubbabel, Not by might, nor 
by power, but by My spirit, saith Jehovah of Hosts. 
Tattenai either had challenged or was on the point of 
challenging the Jews to produce their authority for 
proceeding with the work. An unfavourable answer 
might come from the Persian court. The enmity 
of neighbouring nations was always to be feared. 

1 See pp. 317, 187. 2 See Note D, p. 438. 


Zerubbabel's heart may well have quailed at the 
task before him. But he is assured that there is an 
unfailing supply of divine grace and strength at 
hand for the nation ; he is taught that there is no 
need to appeal to worldly power and material force. 
Every obstacle will be removed. Who art thou, 
great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a 
plain. He will carry the work to its completion ; 
he shall bring forth the top stone of the temple in 
the midst of the shouts of joy which invoke the 
divine favour upon it. It was a day of small things, 
measured by external appearances ; but the success 
of Israel's mission depended not on material force, 
but on the power of the spirit. 

(6) The But restoration would be incomplete indeed with- 

tlyinq roll. , , . . 

out spiritual reformation. Holiness was the aim of 
Israel's calling, and the land of Israel was to be the 
holy land (ii. 12). Two visions follow, symbolising 
the attainment of this purpose. The flying roll 
is the emblem of the curse which goes forth to 

(7) The exterminate sinners ; the woman in the ephah borne 

woman in 

the ephah. away to the land of Shinar prefigures the entire 
removal of the spirit of wickedness, and its banish- 
ment to the typical land of unholiness (v. 1-11). 

(5) The /our Finally, the powers of heaven are seen going 

chariots. . 

forth to execute judgement on the heathen who 
have rejoiced in the humiliation of God's people 
(vi. 1-8). 

Thus the visions of the seer conveyed a message of 


encouragement to the people and their leaders ; they 
held out the assurance that the country should be 
repeopled, the Temple rebuilt, the land purged from 
all iniquity, the heathen judged. 

One symbolical act of deepest significance re- The 


mained to be done. The prophet was commanded of Joshua. 
to crown the High Priest Joshua, and declare him to 
be the type of One greater than himself who was 
still to come ; — the Branch of the house of David ; 
the royal priest, who should build the spiritual 
temple, of which the material Temple was the 
figure, and rule in perfect harmony with God, whose 
representative he would be (vi. 9-15). 1 

For two years Zechariah was silent, and then, in 
answer to an inquiry whether it was still obligatory 
to observe the fasts instituted to commemorate the 
destruction of Jerusalem, he directed the attention 
of his questioners from outward observances to the 
real substance of Jehovah's demands. He pointed 
once more to the warnings given by the past history 
of the nation, and bade them obey the commands 
which their fathers had disregarded. Keaffirming 
Jehovah's burning love for His people, he pictured 
the prosperity in store for them, culminating in the 
pilgrimage of the nations to Zion as the spiritual 
centre of the world, and their eagerness for fellow- 
ship with Israel, in order that they might share in 
Israel's fellowship with God (vii, viii). 
1 See Note E, p. 439. 



Success and The preaching of the two prophets bore the 


o/floTi* desired fruit. The building of the Temple was 
TeihaHah. carried on with vigour. Tattenai, the Persian 
governor of the province, challenged their authority ; 
but though he felt it his duty to refer the matter to 
Darius, he did not think it necessary to interfere 
with the work. In this the Jews rightly recognised 
a proof of God's favour. The reference to Darius 
led to the discovery of the decree of Cyrus in the 
archives at Ecbatana ; and Darius issued a fresh 
decree directing Tattenai to provide materials for 
the work, and to furnish the Jews with animals and 
other requisites for sacrifice. In less than four and a 
half years from the recommencement of the work the 
Temple was completed, and dedicated with solemn 
ceremonies, amid general rejoicings, on the third 
day of the twelfth month (Adar = March-April) in 
the sixth year of Darius (Ezra vi. 14 ff.). 1 

Haggai has met with rough treatment and scant 
justice at the hands of critics, who have scornfully 
stigmatised his plain and unadorned utterances as 

1 It is very probable that Psalms xcv-c were composed for use 
upon this occasion. The Septuagint titles of xcvi, When the house 
was being built after the captivity, and xcvii, When the land was 
being settled, may preserve a true tradition as to their date. The 
keynote of these Psalms is taken from Is. lii. 7, Jehovah hath pro- 
claimed Himself King. The restoration of Israel was the proclama- 
tion of His sovereignty, the dedication of the Temple His re- 
enthronement in Zion. 


thin and meagre. Certainly he is neither orator nor 
poet like Isaiah ; but the prophet's real importance is 
not to be measured by the brilliance of his periods. 
Plain straightforward words of warning, exhortation, 
and encouragement — Consider your ways (i. 5, 7 ; cp. 
ii. 15, 18) : Be strong, Zerubbabel . . . be strong, 
Joshua . . . be strong, all ye people of the land, and 
work (ii. 4) : — the lesson of doing the duty that lies to 
hand with unwavering faith and steady perseverance 
in spite of appearances and opposition : these are the 
substance of Haggai's preaching : and measured by 
its practical success, the work which he and his 
colleague Zechariah accomplished was of the first 

For it was due under God to their efforts that 
the rebuilding of the Temple was recommenced and 
carried to a successful issue. This was a service of 
incalculable moment. The Temple was the outward 
symbol of the dwelling of God in the midst of Israel. 
To let it lie neglected was, alike for themselves and 
in the sight of the nations around, a practical denial 
of the truth which gave meaning to their return 
from exile, the truth which in different forms Ha£"ai 

' DO 

and Zechariah are never weary of repeating, that 
Jehovah had not cast off His people but had in very 
deed returned to dwell in the city of His choice. 
The Temple was the necessary centre for the people 
whose bond of unity must henceforth be their re- 
ligion. A common place of worship must be the 


outward expression of that religious unity, the point 
to which the heart of the faithful Israelite might turn, 
even in his remotest land of exile. And yet again ; 
though the destruction of the Temple had closed for 
ever one volume of Israel's history, the re-erection of 
it must bear witness to the continuity of that history. 
The house of Jehovah in Jerusalem was one and the 
same, though its material form had been altered. 
The great herald of the Eestoration had indeed 
taught his hearers that no earthly temple could 
represent the majesty of Him Whose throne is 
heaven and Whose footstool earth (Isa. lxvi. 1), but 
the time had not yet come for dispensing with this 
outward and visible sacrament of God's Presence 
among His people. Five centuries of preparation 
had still to pass before the full time came for God to 
tabernacle in man, and for the needs of that period 
the Temple was indispensable. 


Their uni- But if Haggai and Zechariah concentrated their 

tersalism. . cim 1 

efforts on promoting the rebuilding of the lemple, it 
was in no narrow spirit of national exclusiveness or 
religious bigotry. The glory of that Temple was, 
they predicted, to be its catholicity. They watch 
the nations bringing their offerings to adorn the 
Temple, and to make its outward splendour signi- 
ficant of the still greater glory which was in store 


for it (Hagg. ii. 7 ; Zech. vi. 15). They see them, as 
Isaiah and Micah had seen them, streaming thither 
to worship Jehovah, and eagerly claiming a share in 
the privileges of the chosen nation (Zech. ii. 11 ; 
viii. 20 ff.). There is to be consummated the final 
reconciliation of man to God and man to man. For 
to nothing less than this, though the prophet may 
not have perceived their full import, do the words 
reach forward, In this place will I give peace, saith 
Jehovah of hosts (Hagg. ii. 9). And dimly shadowed 
out beyond the material Temple, rises the mysterious 
outline of a spiritual temple, which the priestly king 
of David's line will build (Zech. vi. 12, 13). 

It is the strangest misconception of the teaching 
of these prophets to charge them with a heartless 
and unspiritual formalism. It is abundantly clear 
that they looked for holiness as the true goal of 
Israel's training. The Lord's inheritance is to be the 
holy land ; all evil doers and Wickedness itself are 
to be banished from its boundaries. Again and 
again the truth is emphasised that moral failure had 
been the cause of their fathers' rejection, and that 
obedience to God's moral requirements is the necessary 
condition of acceptable approach to Him, and of the 
bestowal of His blessing. 

Hardly second in importance to their practical The 


service in securing the restoration of the Temple, Bope. 
was their work in handing on the torch of Messianic 
hope under the altered conditions of the time. The 
2 F 


kingdom had passed away. The representative of 
David's house was only a provincial governor 
appointed by a foreign power, with no security of 
office. Yet once again the hope of Israel is directed 
to the house of David ; Zerubbabel is distinguished 
by the lofty title of Jehovah's servant, the object of 
His choice and care (Hagg. ii. 23) ; he is invested 
with an importance far beyond his personal and 
individual consequence, as the type of One to 

Side by side with Zerubbabel as the representative 
of David's line, the high priest as the spiritual re- 
presentative of the people gains a new prominence. 
He and his companions are a sign. They are a 
pledge that Jehovah will fulfil His purpose to bring 
forth His servant the Branch (Zech. iii. 8 ff.). With 
this promise of the advent of the Messianic king is 
connected the assurance of the completion of the 
Temple and the removal of the iniquity of the land. 
The mysterious stone which is set before Joshua 
appears to be the top stone of the Temple (cp. iv. 7). 
It is the object of Jehovah's special care. The con- 
nexion of this double assurance with the promise 
of the coming of the Messiah is explained by ch. vi. 
12 ff., where the priestly character of the Messiah is 
symbolically set forth, and it is predicted that He will 
build the Temple. As priest, He will make atone- 
ment for the sin of the land. But how will He take 
part in the building of the Temple ? Does Zechariah 


expect His coming immediately in connexion with 
present circumstances, or does he already anticipate 
the building of the spiritual temple of living stones ? 
Probably it was only through the course of events 
that the spiritual character of the work of the 
Messiah could be fully realised, but the truth is 
there in germ. 

But further, Joshua is crowned as a type of the 
Branch, symbolising a royal priest who was yet to 
come : and thus in his Messianic prophecy Zechariah 
makes an advance towards the idea of the union of 
the priestly office with the royal office in the person 
of the Messiah. In the next lecture I hope to shew 
that the other prophets whose writings now form 
part of the Book of Zechariah make other significant 
advances towards the union of distinct, and as it 
must have seemed, incompatible, lines of Messianic 
prophecy. Thus the Book of Zechariah occupies a 
position of singular importance towards the close of 
the prophetic period in virtue of its contributions 
towards a more complete conception of the true 
character of the Deliverer, for whose coming men 
were bidden to wait through centuries of trial in 
patience and faith. 

Note A. — Sheshbazzar = Zerubbabel. 

It is here assumed that Sheshbazzar (Ezra i. 8, 11 ; v. 
14, 16) is to be identified with Zerubbabel. It has indeed 
been maintained by some recent critics that Sheshbazzar was 


kingdom had passed away. The representative of 
David's house was only a provincial governor 
appointed by a foreign power, with no security of 
office. Yet once again the hope of Israel is directed 
to the house of David ; Zerubbabel is distinguished 
by the lofty title of Jehovah's servant, the object of 
His choice and care (Hagg. ii. 23) ; he is invested 
with an importance far beyond his personal and 
individual consequence, as the type of One to 

Side by side with Zerubbabel as the representative 
of David's line, the high priest as the spiritual re- 
presentative of the people gains a new prominence. 
He and his companions are a sign. They are a 
pledge that Jehovah will fulfil His purpose to bring 
forth His servant the Branch (Zech. iii. 8 ff.). With 
this promise of the advent of the Messianic king is 
connected the assurance of the completion of the 
Temple and the removal of the iniquity of the land. 
The mysterious stone which is set before Joshua 
appears to be the top stone of the Temple (cp. iv. 7). 
It is the object of Jehovah's special care. The con- 
nexion of this double assurance with the promise 
of the coming of the Messiah is explained by ch. vi. 
12 ff., where the priestly character of the Messiah is 
symbolically set forth, and it is predicted that He will 
build the Temple. As priest, He will make atone- 
ment for the sin of the land. But how will He take 
part in the building of the Temple ? Does Zechariah 


expect His coming immediately in connexion with 
present circumstances, or does he already anticipate 
the building of the spiritual temple of living stones ? 
Probably it was only through the course of events 
that the spiritual character of the work of the 
Messiah could be fully realised, but the truth is 
there in germ. 

But further, Joshua is crowned as a type of the 
Branch, symbolising a royal priest who was yet to 
come : and thus in his Messianic prophecy Zechariah 
makes an advance towards the idea of the union of 
the priestly office with the royal office in the person 
of the Messiah. In the next lecture I hope to shew 
that the other prophets whose writings now form 
part of the Book of Zechariah make other significant 
advances towards the union of distinct, and as it 
must have seemed, incompatible, lines of Messianic 
prophecy. Thus the Book of Zechariah occupies a 
position of singular importance towards the close of 
the prophetic period in virtue of its contributions 
towards a more complete conception of the true 
character of the Deliverer, for whose coming men 
were bidden to wait through centuries of trial in 
patience and faith. 

Note A. — Sheshbazzar = Zerubbabel. 

It is here assumed that Sheshbazzar (Ezra i. 8, 11 ; v. 
14, 16) is to be identified with Zerubbabel. It has indeed 
been maintained by some recent critics that Sheshbazzar was 


a Persian officer, and that Zerubbabel was not placed in a 
position of authority as governor until some years had 
elapsed after the Eeturn. But a comparison of Ezra v. 14, 16 
with iii. 8 ff. seems to leave no doubt that the compiler 
of the Book of Ezra identified Sheshbazzar with Zerubbabel, 
and he would scarcely have styled a foreigner the Prince of 
Judah (i. 8). That Zerubbabel should have had a Persian or 
Babylonian name is in no way improbable (cp. Dan. i. 7), 
and that the Hebrew name should be used in the narrative 
(Ezra v. 2) while the foreign name appears in Tattenai's 
letter (v. 14, 16) is perfectly natural. The reasons alleged 
for supposing that the compiler was mistaken in this identi- 
fication, and has confused the events which took place in 
B.C. 520 with those which happened immediately after the 
Return, are not convincing. 

Note B. — On the Historical Accuracy of the 
Narrative in Ezra hi, iv. 

In an elaborate article on " The Duration of the Building 
of the Second Temple " in the Studien una Kritilcen for 1867, 
pp. 460 ff., Schrader has argued that the Temple was not 
commenced until B.C. 520. This view has been adopted by 
many critics, most recently by K. Marti, Der Prophet Sacharja, 
1892, p. 53. It is urged that Haggai speaks of the founda- 
tion of the Temple being laid on the 24th day of the ninth 
month of the second year of Darius (ii. 18) ; and that the 
corresponding account in Ezra (v. 2) describes Zerubbabel 
and Joshua as then beginning to build the house of God. The 
compiler of the Book of Ezra is supposed to have antedated 
the commencement of the work in his account in ch. iii, and 
placed the events of the second year of Darius (B.C. 520) in 
the second year of the Return. The grounds alleged for 
supposing that he thus misunderstood his authorities, and 


produced an inaccurate and inconsistent narrative are, how- 
ever, insufficient. The meaning of Haggai ii. 18 is obscure. 
It is by no means certain that Haggai there identifies the 
day on which he was speaking with the day on which the 
Temple was founded. The preposition used (E.V. since the 
day) more naturally implies a terminus a quo remote from the 
day on which he was speaking. But even if it be granted 
that he does speak of that day as the day on which the foun- 
dation of the Temple was laid, his language may perfectly 
well refer to the resumption of the work. This was, to all 
practical intents and purposes, the foundation of the Temple. 
Similarly the language of Ezra v. 2 may be explained, as it 
usually has been, of the recommencement of the work. 
Moreover Haggai ii. 3 implies that in the seventh month 
(two months before the date of ch. ii. 18) the building had 
already progressed so far that disparaging comparisons could 
be made between it and the old Temple ; and it is improb- 
able that the laying of the foundation-stone would have been 
delayed in modern fashion until the walls were beginning 
to rise. 

Note C. — Haggai ii. 7. 

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to remark that the per- 
sonal Messianic reference, to which the rendering of tie 
Vulgate, veniet desideratus cunctis gentibus, has long given a 
wide currency, cannot be maintained. The verb shall come 
is in the plural, and the word rendered in the A.V. the desire 
means, as in 1 Sam. ix. 20, the desirable things or choicest 
treasures, such as the silver and gold spoken of in v. 8 as 
belonging to Jehovah, and therefore at His disposal for the 
adornment of the Temple. This tribute of the nations is 
the outward expression of their recognition of Jehovah, and 
accordingly the passage may rightly be regarded as having a 
Messianic reference, though it cannot be understood as a pro- 
phecy of the Messiah Himself. Construction and sense are 


both illustrated by Isa. lx. 5, to which this passage may very 
possibly be an allusion. The abundance of the sea shall be 
turned unto thee, the wealth of the nations shall come unto thee. 
The interpretation of the words as the choicest of the nations 
is attractive. It seems to be supported by the verb come, 
and the LXX rot e/<AeKTa TrdvTWv twv Wvwv might be so 
understood. Similarly in Isa. lx. 5 it is tempting to render 
the multitude of the sea (i.e. the countries round the Mediter- 
ranean) . . . the host of the nations. But the context decides 
against this interpretation ; for v. 8 must refer to the 
treasures mentioned in v. 7 ; and a comparison of Isa. lxi. 6 
shews that the wealth and not the host of the nations is the 
meaning of the passage in Isaiah. Cp. Zech. xiv. 14. 

Note D. — On Zech. iv. 

The chandelier must certainly represent the nation of 
Israel, not the Temple. If the reading of the Massoretic 
Text in v. 2 is retained, the seven pipes to each of the lamps 
(R.V.) symbolise the ample supply of oil conveyed to them. 
But the Sept. and Vulg. may be right in reading seven 
pipes to the lamps. But what is meant by the two olive trees 
and their two branches ? The trees are generally explained 
to mean the Aaronic priesthood and the house of David, the 
two branches being their present representatives, Joshua and 
Zerubbabel. They are supposed to be called the two sons of 
oil (v. 14), either as being anointed, or as the instruments 
through whom is ministered the supply of divine grace which 
enables Israel to fulfil its mission. But sons of oil is not a 
natural paraphrase for anointed ones ; and the description 
that stand by the Lord of the whole earth would apply more 
naturally to heavenly beings (cp. iii. 7) than to Joshua and 
ZerubbabeL The intention of the vision is to represent, by 
the figure of the perpetual supply of oil furnished to the 
chandelier, the unfailing supply of Jehovah's strength tc 


Israel ; and it is best to suppose that the interpreting angel 
avoids giving a human meaning to the branches, and intends 
by the two sons of oil that stand by the Lord of the whole earth 
to suggest the idea of mysterious heavenly ministers of divine 
grace to Israel. See the note in Perowne's Comm. in the 
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. 

Note E. — On Zech. vi. 9-15. 

The meaning of this important passage has been much 
disputed, and requires further examination. Heldai, Tobijah, 
and Jedaiah, had come from Babylon, bearing offerings of 
gold and silver. Zechariah is bidden to take some of the 
gold and silver from them, and to make a crown or crowns of 
it. Which was he to do ? The word ataroth rendered crown 
is plural, but it may denote a crown composed of two or more 
circlets, and is used of a single crown in Job xxxi. 36. Now 
as only one person is crowned, and the verb shall be in 
v. 14 is in the singular, it seems best to render the word in 
the singular, crown. (The object of the verb set (v. 11) is 
not expressed in the original. Them is supplied in A.V. and 
R.V.) It has been supposed by some that two crowns were 
to be placed on the head of Joshua, one representing the 
priestly, the other the regal dignity ; but the crown was not 
a priestly ornament. Zechariah is to place the crown on 
the head of Joshua, and to speak to him saying, Thus saith 
Jehovah of hosts, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot [Tsemach], 
and he shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of 
Jehovah: yea it is he that shall build the temple of Jehovah, and 
shall bear majesty ; and he shall sit and rule upon his throne ; 
and he shall be a priest upon his throne ; and the counsel of 
peace shall be between them. 

Jeremiah had applied the term Tsemach (E.V. Branch) 
meaning Shoot or Growth, to the Messiah as the shoot from 
the stock of David (Jer. xxiii. 5; xxxiii. 15). Zechariah 


takes it up and treats it as a recognised title of the Messianic 
King. In ch. iii. 8 Joshua and his companions are spoken 
of as a sign that Jehovah will bring forth His servant 
Tsemach, and fulfil the ancient prophecy of his coming. 
Here Joshua is crowned as a type of Tsemach. Joshua is not 
himself Tsemach ; the title has been definitely appropriated 
to the Messiah. Obvious reasons would have prevented the 
coronation of Zerubbabel, which would have seemed more 
natural. Such an act would have appeared suspicious to 
the Persian satrap, and however harmless in intention, might 
have been interpreted as a claim of independence. But the 
impossibility of crowning Zerubbabel leads to an act of the 
highest significance. The point of the act lies in its anomalous 
and exceptional character. It was, however little its full 
significance may been understood at the time, a fore- 
shadowing of the future union of the royal and priestly offices 
in the person of the Messiah. Jeremiah had already taught 
that the Messiauic King would have a priestly right of access 
to God (Jer. xxx. 21); and the present passage offers the 
concej tion of the Messiah as a royal priest. 

The Shoot will shoot up from his appointed place, as a 
rod out of the stem of Jesse. He will complete the building 
of the Temple, fulfilling the prophecy of 2 Sam. vii. 13. He 
will bear royal majesty — hod is especially used of kingly and 
divine majesty (1 Chron. xxix. 25). Now, if the words of 
Jeremiah are rightly understood to mean that the Messianic 
king will have priestly privileges, is it surprising that 
Zechariah, whose prophecy is founded on those of Jeremiah, 
6hould go further and say, he shall be a -priest upon his throne ? 

But to whom does the pronoun his refer ] At first sight 
it seems simplest to refer it to Tsemach. But the interpre- 
tation of the next clause will then be involved in serious 
difficulty. Who are the parties between whom the counsel 
of peace will be maintained ? " The King and the Priest," 
answers Delitzsch, " whose dignities and offices the Messiah 


unites in His own person. The antagonism and rivalry of 
the two offices will be removed and vanish in his person, in 
the king, who is a •priest for ever after the order of MelchisedeJc." 
But it is difficult to see how between them both can fairly be 
explained not of two persons, but of two characters or offices 
united in one person. It is more satisfactory to refer the 
pronoun his to Jehovah. Solomon's throne is called the 
throne, of Jehovah (1 Chron. xxix. 23 ; cp. xxviii. 5). Much 
more might the throne of the ideal theocratic king, the per- 
fect representative of Jehovah, be called Jehovah's throne. 
But if it is Jehovah's throne upon which this priestly king 
sits to rule, the difficulty of v. 13 c disappears. It is Je- 
hovah and the priest-king Tsemach between whom there will 
be counsel of peace. Jehovah's perfect representative will 
rule in entire harmony with Him. 

The crown which had been placed on Joshua's head was 
to be laid up in the Temple as a memorial of the liberality of 
those who had brought their offerings. It was an earnest of 
other offerings from those afar off, both Jews and Gentiles, 
who would contribute to the building of the Temple. 

If this view of the passage is correct, there is no need 
to follow Ewald in inserting and upon the head of Zerubbabel 
in i\ 11; and to alter speak unto him to speak unto them. 
Such alterations are not emendation but reconstruction of 
the text ; and in fact the change does not suit the context ; 
for v. 12 distinctly implies the coronation of one person not 
of two. 



Rejoice exceedingly, daughter of Zion ; shout triumphantly, 
daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King shall come to thee; 
righteous and saved is He ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even 
upon a colt, the foal of an ass. — Zechariah ix. 9. 

Critical The last six chapters of the Book of Zechariah 
l zed,a"iah present critical problems of singular interest and 


unusual difficulty. When we pass from the eighth 
chapter to the ninth, it is evident that we have 
entered a fresh region of thought. The distinctive 
characteristics of the first part of the book have 
disappeared. They are replaced by new and equally 
distinctive characteristics. The differences are great ; 
the resemblances few and unimportant. In the 
first part of the book the prophet is repeatedly 
mentioned by name. We are told to whom he 
is speaking. His utterances are precisely dated. 
Their object is plain. They have an intimate con- 
nexion with the historical circumstances of the age. 

lect. xv ZECHARIAH IX-XIV 443 

Zechariah is emphatically a teacher raised up to 

meet the peculiar needs of a particular generation. 

In the second part of the book the author's name is 

never mentioned. The data for determining his age 

and the circumstances under which he speaks are 

uncertain. They elude us by their indefmiteness 

and baffle us by their inconsistency. The didactic 

element gives way almost entirely to the apocalyptic. 

After every allowance has been made for the difference 

of subject, it seems in the highest degree improbable 

that these chapters can be the work of Zechariah, 

the coadjutor of Zerubbabel and Joshua in their 

great work of rebuilding the Temple. 

But further, these chapters fall into two divisions Two divi- 
sions in 
so dissimilar in style and substance that in spite of zechariah 

* *■ ix-xvo. 

an unquestionable connexion between the prophecies 
as they are at present arranged it seems doubtful 
if they can be regarded as the work of the same 
writer. The title at the beginning of the twelfth 
chapter marks off chapters xii-xiv as a distinct 
prophecy, and although ch. xiii. 7-9 appears to form 
the sequel to ch. xi, it is so isolated that it may 
well be doubted whether it now stands in its original 
position. For our present purpose, however, it is less 
important to determine whether these chapters are 
the work of one author or of two, than to fix, if 
possible, the period or periods to which they belong. 
The two parts are so distinct in their characteristics 
that it will be necessary to examine them separately 


for this purpose ; and it will be necessary to do this 
in some detail, in order to justify the position here 
assigned to them in the succession of the prophets. 
Dates It has very generally been maintained that internal 


assigned evidence proves chaps, ix-xi to be the work of a 

to the two x L 

divisions. p r0 ph e t who flourished shortly after the death of 
Jeroboam II, and was therefore contemporary with 
Hosea and Isaiah. It has even been proposed to 
identify him with that Zechariah, the son of 
Jeberechiah, whom Isaiah selected to attest his pro- 
phetic message (Isa. viii. 2). Chaps, xii-xiv have 
been assigned to the period between the death of 
Josiah at Megiddo in B.C. 609 and the Fall of 
Jerusalem in B.C. 586. Their author would accord- 
ingly have been the contemporary of Habakkuk and 
Jeremiah. Some critics, however, and critics who 
have approached the question from widely different 
points of view, have maintained that these chapters, 
whether proceeding from one author or two, belong 
to the age after the Exile. This view seems to me 
to be the true one. While I am fully conscious of 
the difficulties, especially with regard to chaps, ix-xi, 
I believe that it is easier to offer an explanation of 
the apparent references to pre-exilic circumstances 
upon the theory of a post-exilic date, than to account 
for the apparent references to post-exilic circum- 
stances upon the theory of a pre-exilic date. 



Let us consider first the positive indications in (0 chaps. 

ix xi. 

chapters ix-xi which point to a date after the (QJndica- 

r r " tions of a 

Captivity. They are briefly as follows. The exile, p d ° a s ^ xilui 
not only of Ephraim but of Judah, appears to be pre- 
supposed (ix. 11, 12; x. 6-11). Judah has been 
partly restored to its own land (ix. 9, 11), and is to 
expect more complete restoration (ix. 12). Ephraim, 
still in exile, is to be brought back and reunited to 
Judah (x. 6 ff.). The land of Judah has been overrun 
by a foreign enemy, and, apparently, the temple has 
been desecrated (ix. 8). Judah, it would seem, is 
without a king, and is bidden to rejoice at the ap- 
proaching advent of the Messianic King (ix. 9). The 
mention of Greece (ix. 13) I reserve for consideration 
presently (pp. 454, 476). Further, it is difficult to 
resist the impression that various parts of the prophecy 
are dependent upon earlier prophets, especially Hosea, 
Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. 1 

Now let us consider the indications which are (s)indica 

tions of a 

thought to point to a date before the Captivity. It pre-exUie 


is urged (a) that the references to Ephraim and 

Judah in chapters ix. 10, 13 ; xi. 14 distinctly imply 

that the Northern Kingdom was still in existence, and 

1 Stade iu his elaborate essay in the Z.A. T. W. for 1881, pp. 1 ff., 
has damaged his case by overstatement and exaggeration ; but he 
appears to me, in spite of Kuenen's criticism (Mini. p. 397), to have 
made out a strong case for the dependence of ix. 1-8 on Ezek. 
xxviii. 1-5 ; of x. 3-12 on Ezek. xxxiv ; of xi. 1-17 and xiii. 7-9 
on Hos. ii ; Jer. xxv. 34-38 ; xii. 3-5 ; Ezek. xxxiv. 2-10. 


that the relations between Judah and Ephraim were, 
or had been till recently, friendly : (b) that the 
parable of ch. xi. 4 ff. finds its best explanation in 
the circumstances of the Northern Kingdom after the 
death of Jeroboam II (2 Kings xv. 13 ff.), when 
Shallum murdered Zechariah after a brief reign of 
six months, and was himself in turn slain by 
Menahem, after enjoying the fruits of his treachery 
for a single month : (c) that the worthless shepherd 
(ch. xi. 15 ff.) may best be identified with Menahem 
or Pekah : (d) that the political horizon closely 
corresponds to that of Amos and Hosea : Syria, 
Phoenicia, and Philistia being threatened (ix. 1-7) 
as in Amos i. 3-10 ; Egypt and Assyria being coupled 
together (x. 10, 11) as in Hos. vii. 11 ; ix. 3 ; xi. 11 ; 
xii. 1 : (e) that the closest parallels to the description 
of the Messianic King in ch. ix. 9 are to be found 
in Isaiah and Micah : (/) that the mention of tera- 
phim and diviners (x. 2) is inconsistent with a date 
after the Exile, when idolatry and superstition had 
been eradicated. Other arguments, which rest upon 
a more or less precarious exegesis, need not be con- 
sidered here. On the strength of these indications 
ch. ix is placed towards the close of the reign of 
Jeroboam II (b.c. 755-749) ; chaps, x, xi somewhat 
later, after the hostilities between Israel and Judah 
in the reign of Ahaz, and the deportation of the 
northern Israelites to Assyria by Tiglath-Pileser in 
B.C. 734 (2 Kings xv. 29). 


We have accordingly two sets of indications Proposed 


pointing in opposite directions. How can they best 
be reconciled ? A hypothesis which has recently 
found considerable favour supposes that in these 
chapters " really old, pre-exilic fragments are pre- 
served, which for the most part come down from the 
eighth century B.C., but have been arranged by a 
post -exilic redactor, and amplified with additions 
from his own hand." x This hypothesis is certainly 
plausible, and it helps to account for the abrupt 
transitions which are so perplexing. But it is not 
satisfactory, and after repeated consideration it 
seems to me that while the indications of a post- 
exilic date are clear and definite, and refuse to be 
explained away, the supposed indications of a pre- 
exilic date all admit of a reasonable explanation. 

The clue to the solution of the apparent contra- Supposed 

evidence fci 

dictions is to be found in the secondary and apo- P r ™ xilie 
calyptic character of the whole section. 2 It takes up 
and reaffirms the prophecies of Amos and Hosea, 
Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which look forward to the 
restoration and reunion of Israel and Judah under 

1 Kuenen, Einl. § 81. Compare Prof. Cheyne, in the Jewish 
Quarterly Review, Oct. 1888, p. 82. Prof. Driver, Introd. to Lit. 
of O.T. 6 p. 349, thinks that "on the whole a post-exilic date 
for the prophecy is the most probable," and that "it is in part 
a re-affirmation, in a form adapted to the circumstances of the 
time, of older promises of victory over foes, restoration of exiles, 
and the advent of the Messianic age." 

2 Cp. Delitzsch, Messianische IVeissagungen, pp. 149 ff. ; and for 
some remarks on the difference between Apocalypse and Prophecy 
see Bishop Westcott, Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, p. 73, n. 3. 




the Messianic King, the Prince of the house of 
David. Its interest is wholly in the future — a future 
which may in part be still remote. Assuming then 
for the moment that the standpoint of the writer is 
post-exilic, and the character of his prophecy apo- 
calyptic, let us see whether the supposed evidence 
for a pre-exilic date does not vanish upon a careful 

ch. ix. 10, (a) The references to Ephraim and Judah in 
ch. ix. 10, 13 do not necessarily imply that the old 
kingdoms were still in existence. In ch. ix. 10 
the prophet is speaking of the Messianic age. He 
assumes that the restoration of Ephraim as well 
as Judah, which the ancient prophets foretold, is an 
accomplished fact. In accordance with the prophecies 
of Rosea (ii. 18), of Isaiah (ix. 5 ff.), and of Micah 
(v. 10 ff.) the Messiah's kingdom will be a kingdom 
of peace. All the instruments of war will be destroyed 
from the midst of the restored people. Then, with 
splendid inconsistency, the prophet describes Judah 
as Jehovah's bow and Ephraim as His arrow, Zion as 
His sword and her sons as His spear 1 (ix. 13), in 
the final conflict which must precede the reign of 
universal peace. 

ch. xi. il The historical reference of ch. xi. 14 is quite 
uncertain. It can scarcely be said that the relations 
between Israel and Judah in the middle of the eighth 
century B.C. were those of brotherhood. The words 

1 See Note A, p. 476. 


may equally well contain a warning against history 
repeating itself in a second disruption and a dis- 
solution of the restored brotherhood which the 
prophet contemplates. 

(b) The allegory of ch. xi. 4 ff. is far too obscure ch. xi. ug. 
of interpretation to allow of any argument being 

based upon it. It is at least as reasonable to explain 
it as a symbolical prediction of the rejection of a 
divinely-appointed ruler by an ungrateful people as 
it is to treat it as a symbolical account of historical 
events. Of course it may be admitted, even upon 
the hypothesis of a post-exilic date, that some of the 
features in the picture may have been suggested by 
the history of the Northern Kingdom. 

(c) Here, too, the same remarks will apply. The Ch. xi. 15- 
identification of the worthless shepherd with Pekah 

or Menahem is precarious. The argument is not 
one which can be pressed. 

(d) It is true that Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia ch. ix. 1-: 
are among the nations threatened by Amos ; but his 
outlook is much wider ; and there is a special reason 

for the mention of these particular nations here, 
with the significant addition of Hamath, which is not 
included by Amos. They are just the nations which 
came within the limits of the Promised Land, from 
the wilderness to the river Euphrates (Exod. xxiii. 31 ; 
cp. 1 Kings iv. 24, viii. 65, where note from the 
entering in of Hamath). 

These nations must be destroyed, or reduced to a 
2 G 


condition of friendly dependence, as a preliminary 
to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, 
which will include their territories, from the River to 
the ends of the earth (ix. 10). Egypt and Assyria 
are not mentioned as present enemies ; but they are 
naturally mentioned in connexion with Ephraim's 
restoration (x. 10), exactly as Hosea had mentioned 
them in connexion with Ephraim's captivity. As- 
syria was the actual, Egypt the typical, land of bond- 
age ; and if the language of v. 11 may seem to imply 
that the Assyrian empire was still standing, it must 
be remembered that the term Assyria is used both for 
Babylon (Lam. v. 6) and for Persia (Ezra vi. 22), as the 
successors to the power and territories of Assyria. 

ch. ix. 9. (e) It will be seen, when we come to consider the 
characteristics of the Messianic King, that the por- 
trait here drawn differs in significant features from 
that of the pre-exilic prophets, and really forms a 
strong argument for the post-exilic date. 

ch. x. 2 (/) The reference in ch. x. 2 to teraphim and 
diviners is best understood as a reference to past 
history, and not to the circumstances of the prophet's 
own time. But even if it is so taken, we know from 
Malachi that sorcery was prevalent in his day (iii. 5) ; 
it is scarcely conceivable that the mixed marriages 
which Nehemiah so fiercely denounced did not intro- 
duce Philistine superstitions (Neh. xiii. 23 ff.) ; x and 

1 If the Philistine meoiiZnim (Isa. ii. 6) were really cloud-corn- 
pollers or rain-makers, there would be a remarkable link of connexion 


Josephus gives an elaborate account of the practices 

of exorcism in his own time (Ant. viii. 2, 5). 

Thus, then, the indications which have been sup- Preponder- 
ance of 
posed to prove the pre-exilic date of these chapters evidence f<» 

r x •"- *■ post-exilic 

are partly inconclusive, partly capable of an ex- datc - 
planation consistent with the post-exilic date. If 
this is so, the positive references to the Captivity 
and to the partial restoration of Judah may be 
allowed their full weight, and we may decide in 
favour of fixing the date of these chapters in the 
period after the Eeturn from Babylon. Undoubtedly 
the prophecy bears a striking resemblance to the 
earlier prophets, but this may be accounted for by 
the author's familiarity with the writings of his pre- 
decessors. But he is no mere servile plagiarist. He 
has a commission to reaffirm the old hopes under 
new circumstances, and to add warnings of no trifling 


We pass on to consider the date of the second <a) chaps. 


division (chaps, xii-xiv). The Northern Kingdom W^ M - 

n ■»■ ' ° mentsjor a 

has entirely disappeared from view. All the interest ^\$° wn 
centres in Judah and Jerusalem. If the mourning Tctsse. 
of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon (xii. 11) 
refers, as is generally supposed, to the national mourn- 
ing for the death of Josiah at the battle of Megiddo 

with the present passage, where the point is that Jehovah sends the 
rain which incantations cannot procure. Cp. Jer. xiv. 22. But the 
derivation is doubtful. 


(2 Chron. xxxv. 24, 25), the prophecy must be re- 
ferred to a date subsequent to B.C. 609. It is com- 
monly argued (a) that the way in which this mourning 
is spoken of indicates that it was still fresh in the 
popular recollection : (b) that the references to the 
house of David (xii. 7, 8, 10, 12; xiii. 1) imply that 
the kingdom of Judah was still in existence : (c) that 
the allusions to the earthquake in the days of Uzziah 
(xiv. 5) and to the extirpation of idolatry and false 
prophecy point to the time before the Exile : (d) that 
the predictions of the siege and capture of Jeru- 
salem (xii. 2 ff. ; xiv. 1 ff.) refer to the impending 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (b.c. 586). 
On these grounds the prophecy has been assigned to 
the period between the death of Josiah and the 
destruction of Jerusalem. Supposed allusions to the 
hostility of Egypt in the reigns of Josiah and Jehoi- 
akim (xiv. 18), to the persecution of the prophets by 
Manasseh, or the murder of Uriah by Jehoiakim 
(xii. 10), and to a king of Judah, possibly Josiah 
(xiii. 7), are far too precarious to be taken into 
:?) The But it is very doubtful whether these arguments 


examined. w j]] Dear examination, (a) The interpretation of 
ch. xii. 11 is uncertain, but if it does refer to 
Josiah, it must be remembered that the tragic fate 
of the last good king of Judah, and the popular 
grief for his death, long excited an especial interest. 
It is in the later history of Chronicles, not in 


Kings, that the account of the mourning for him 
is given, (b) There is no explicit reference to a 
king, and though parallels to the expression house of 
David are found in Isa. vii. 2, 13 ; Jer. xxi. 12, 
the mention of the house of David in xii. 12 ff. by 
the side of the house of Levi suggests rather the 
position of co-ordinate pre-eminence which it held 
after the Exile than that of absolute supremacy as the 
reigning house, (c) The allusion to the earthquake 
cannot be pressed. In any case it was too remote 
for personal reminiscence ; and it may be questioned 
whether the touch of expression which seems to 
treat it as comparatively recent (as ye fled) does not 
rest upon a wrong reading. 1 The prediction of the 
final extirpation of idolatry appears to be a repetition 
of Hosea's prediction (ii. 17), and does not necessarily 
imply the prevalence of idolatry, while false prophets 
were, as we know from Nehemiah (vi. 10 ff.), by no 
means limited to the period before the Exile. 

On the other hand, it is at least doubtful whether 
the house of Levi would have been placed, as it is 
here, by the side of the house of David before the 
Exile ; it seems certain that the author draws largely 
from earlier prophets, especially Ezek. xxxviii, xxxix; 2 
and the apocalyptic character of the prophecy points 
to a late rather than an early date. We have only 

1 See Note B, p. 478. 

2 Kuenen, who disputes Stade's conclusions as to chaps, ix-xi, 
admits that he has proved the dependence of chaps, xii-xiv on 
earlier prophets, " though not without some exaggeration." 


to contrast Jeremiah's predictions uttered on the eve 
of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans 
with these generalised predictions of a final muster 
of the heathen against the city of God, in order to 
feel the entire dissimilarity between them. 
Chs. ixxi If then we may adopt the conclusion that chaps. 

andxii-xiv, . 

both V0! <t- ix-xiv all belong to the period after the Exile, can we 

exiln; but by ox 

different ( y further and (1) decide whether they are the work of 

authors. o \ / J 

one writer or of two; and (2) ascertain more precisely 
the date or dates to which they are to be assigned ? 

(1) The balance of probability seems to me in favour 
of assigning these chapters to two authors. The argu- 
ment from style and subject-matter is undoubtedly 
precarious, but chaps, xii-xiv appear to be distin- 
guished from chaps, ix-xi by characteristics of style 
and contents at least as marked as those which distin- 
guish chaps, ix-xiv as a whole from chaps, i-viii. 
Precise date (2) To the second question it is impossible to give 

in tlie post- 

exilic period a definite answer. It has been suggested that ch. 

uncertain. °° 

ix. 1 ff. was written in view of Alexander the Great's 
march southward after the battle of Issus (b.c. 332), 
and that we here obtain a clue to the date. But the 
passage contains no distinct reference to the Greek 
period, and no secure inference can be drawn from a 
mere conjecture. Of more weight would be the men- 
tion of the sons of Greece in ch. ix. 13, if we could 
be certain that the text is sound. It would seem 
to imply the existence ot the Graeco - Macedonian 
empire, if Greece is spoken of as the great enemy 


which the restored Israel has to confront, and so to 
bring the prophecy down to the time of Alexander 
the Great at the earliest. 1 But the reference is an 
isolated one ; nothing else in the prophecy seems to 
point to so late a date, and I cannot help feeling that 
there is a strong probability that the words against 
thy sons, Greece, are a gloss or interpolation added 
in the Maccabaean age. 2 Stade {Z.A.T.W., 1882, 
p. 305) comes to the conclusion that these chapters, 
which he assigns to one author, were written between 
B.C. 306 and B.C. 278 ; but his arguments seem in- 
sufficient to establish either the unity of authorship 
or so late a date. 

In so difficult a question it is necessary to speak 
with hesitation ; but at present it seems to me that 
these chapters belong to the same class of apocalyptic- 
eschatological prophecy as Isaiah xxiv-xxvii, and 
may with considerable probability be assigned to the 
same period, the first sixty or seventy years after 
the Eeturn. In this case they stand in their right 
position between Zechariah and Malachi. For our 
present purpose this will be sufficient ; and though 
it seems most probable that they are the work of two 
writers, there are links of connexion which will make 
it convenient to treat them together in examining 
their distinctive teaching. 

How came these chapters to be appended to the 

1 So Driver, Lit. of 0. T. 6 p. 350, "not earlier than B.C. 333." 
2 See Note A, p. 476. 


Position Book of Zechariah if they were by a different authoi 

cf tli rue 

prophecies, or authors ? The clue to an answer to this question 
is to be found in the similarity of the titles prefixed 
to these two prophecies and to the Book of Malachi. 1 
It has been conjectured with much probability that 
these three pieces came into the hand of the editor 
of the collection of the Minor Prophets as anonymous 
writings. He appended them at the close of his 
volume, and prefixed to the second (Zech. xii. 1) and 
third (Mai. i. 1) titles imitated from that which he 
found, partly or altogether, prefixed to the first 
(Zech. ix. 1) ; and supposing that Malachi iii. 1 might 
contain the author's name, 2 he added it to the title. 
Hence " Malachi " was treated as a separate book, 
while the anonymous pieces which followed the 
Book of Zechariah came in time to be regarded as 
part of it, and attributed to the pen of Zechariah. 

Analysis oj Before proceeding to consider the characteristic 

Zechariah . ....... .. 

ix-xiv. doctrines of these prophecies, it will be well to give 
an outline of their contents. This, it is hoped, will 
illustrate and confirm the view which has been taken 
of their date, and prepare for the consideration of 
their teachings. 

1 An utterance, of Jehovah's word upon the land of Hadrach 
(Zech. ix. 1) : an utterance of Jehovah's word concerning Israel 
(xii. 1) : an utterance of Jehovah's word to Israel by Malachi 
(Mai. i. 1). 

2 The Heb. word for ' ' my messenger " is Mal'dchl. 


The first section (ix. 1-8) announces that the (i)Chapa. 


nations which dwell within the promised boundaries (<*)»'*• f-& 
of Israel's land (Exod. xxiii. 31) must be destroyed, 
or reduced to a position of friendly dependence. 
Jehovah's providence is guiding the course of the 
world's history with special regard to the destiny of 
His own people. 1 His doom falls upon Damascus 
and Hamath. The wisdom of Zidon, the strength 
and wealth of Tyre, cannot avail to save them. The 
judgement sweeps southward. The cities of Philistia 
are terror-stricken. Gaza loses her independence 
Ashkelon is deserted. The purified remnant which 
is left is converted to the worship of Jehovah, and 
lives in friendly if subordinate association with 
Judah, like the Jebusites of old. 2 Jehovah will 
protect His own people ; enemies shall no more 
invade their land (ix. 1-8). 

Thus the way is prepared for the advent of the <b) ix. 9-x. 
Messianic King. Zion is bidden to welcome Him 
as He comes, victorious after suffering, in the garb 
of peace. He destroys the implements of war, 3 which 
are no longer needed, from the midst of the reunited 
nation, proclaims universal peace, and rules over the 
full extent of the Promised Land. Words of comfort 

1 Render v. 1 with R.V. marg., Jehovah hath an eye upon men 
and upon all the. tribes of Israel. 

2 Perhaps we should read, by a simple change of vowel points, 
thousand for chieftain in v. 7. Cp. Mic. v. 2. 

s Read perhaps, with the LXX, in ix. 10, and he shall cut off lice 
chariot, for and I will cut off the chariot. 


are addressed to Zion. In virtue of the covenant 
sealed by sacrifice (Exod. xxiv. 8) her children have 
already been in part restored from the cheerless 
dungeon of exile. Those who are still prisoners, 
hoping for release, are bidden to return ; and a double 
recompence is promised them. Yet conflict must 
precede the final peace. Judah will be Jehovah's 
bow and Ephraim His arrow, Zion His sword and 
her sons His spear. 1 He will Himself appear to 
lead them to victory. Triumphantly they vanquish 
their foes. He re-establishes them in their own 
land. Plenty and prosperity make their youths 
strong and their maidens beautiful (9-17). The 
fertility of the land is Jehovah's bounty ; to Him let 
them turn with prayer for its continuance. Idols 
and diviners have proved a delusion ; it is because 
they sought help from them that Israel has been 
scattered like an unshepherded flock (x. 1, 2). Nay, 
worse, it has fallen into the hands of false shepherds. 
ic)x. an. But the day of retribution for these tyrants has 
come. 2 Jehovah has visited His people. He will 
appoint them new rulers, under whose guidance 

1 See Note A, p. 476. 

2 The shepherds aivd he-goats of x. 3 are commonly taken to 
mean bad native rulers. But it gives a better sense to understand 
the words of foreign tyrants, here and in xi. 3. That this mean- 
ing is possible is clear from Jer. xxv. 34 ff., which the prophet 
certainly has in his mind. From him in x. 4 may mean from 
Jehovah, as the source of authority (cp. Hos. viii. 4 ; Jer. xxiii. 
1-4) ; but it seems preferable to suppose that it means/rora Judah, 
and that it is an echo of Jer. xxx. 21. Native rulers will take the 
place of alien oppressors. 


they will discomfit their foes. Judah will be 
strengthened ; Israel will be restored from exile. 
The sea of calamity will be divided, like the Eed Sea 
of old. Assyria and Egypt will be humbled. Jehovah 
will be Israel's strength, and Israel will order its 
life in accordance with His revealed will (x. 3-12). 

With ch. xi a fresh prophecy opens. A forest (</) xi. is. 
fire devours the cedars of Lebanon ; a crashing 
storm lays low the oaks of Bashan. In other words, 
the rulers and potentates of the nations are swept 
down by the storm of war. The rulers are heard 
lamenting the loss of their magnificence ; the poten- 
tates mourning for the destruction of their strong- 
holds (1-3). 1 

In this crisis the prophet receives a commission («) h. u-iu. 
from God to feed " the flock of the slaughter," which 
has been so barbarously maltreated by its rulers ; 
for a pitiless judgement is coming upon the earth, in 
which nations will be sacrificed to the arbitrary 
ambition of their rulers. 2 

The prophet enters on his task, and takes as the 
insignia of his office two staves, to which he gives 

1 These verses are commonly explained to refer to the unworthy 
leaders of Israel. But Jer. xxv. 34 ff., on which it appears to be 
based, refers to the judgement of the nations, and this seems to 
be the right explanation here. 

2 In xi. 6 for the land render the earth, and for his neighbour's 
hand read, by a simple change of vowel points, his shepherd's hand. 
The judgement is apparently identical with the war figuratively 
described in vv. 1-3. 


the names of Graciousness and Union, to signify the 
gracious care of God for His people and the union 
of Judah and Israel. He deposes evil rulers ; but 
the ungrateful people grow weary of his rule, and 
he leaves them to their fate. Contemptuously they 
give him for his hire the sum fixed as compensation 
for a common slave ; and in token that he is acting 
as Jehovah's representative he puts it into the 
Temple treasury. He breaks his staves, as a sign 
that Jehovah's protection is at an end and that the 
brotherhood between Judah and Israel is dissolved 
(4-14). The whole passage is an allegory, describ- 
ing the rejection of the divinely - appointed Good 
Shepherd by His ungrateful flock, and the fatal con- 
sequences to the flock. 
(f)xti5- But stern judgement is in store for the guilty 
people. The prophet is bidden to assume the 
character of a worthless shepherd, in token that 
they will fall into the hands of a cruel ruler, who 
will make havoc of them for his own advantage 
and will eventually meet with a just retribution 
(15-17). 1 


(it) chaps. Ch. xii is distinguished by its title as the com- 
(a)xu.'i- mencement of a separate prophecy. We are intro- 

ziii. 6. 

1 In v. 17, for sword, which does not agree with the next clauses, 
read, by a simple change of vowel points, burning heat (as in Job 
xxx. 30). Burning heat be upon his arm, and upon his right eye : 
let his arm be clean shrivelled v/p, and his right eye be utterly dimmed. 


duced to fresh scenery and different circumstances. 
The nations are seen mustering to fight against 
Jerusalem ; but Jerusalem will be to them a bowl 
of reeling and a burdensome stone ; they will gain 
nothing but confusion and injury to themselves. 
Judah at first appears in the hostile ranks ; but 
while Jehovah smites the horses of the peoples 
with blindness, He opens His eyes upon Judah. 
They recognise their error, and, turning against 
their allies, destroy the enemies of Jerusalem. 
Jerusalem will not only be delivered, but it will turn 
to Jehovah in mourning, sincere and universal, for 
having rejected Him and slain Him in the person 
of His representative. A fountain of cleansing will 
be opened for them. The very names of idols will 
be abolished. False prophets will be cut off. Nay, 
the pretender will be slain by his own parents in 
their righteous zeal for truth (xii. 1-xiii. 6). 

With xiii. 7 a new section begins, which appears to Q>)mu. ?-a 
be at once the sequel of the allegory in ch. xi and 
the key to the cause of the people's mourning hi 
ch. xii. Why it stands here is an unsolved enigma. 
The sword is summoned to smite the divinely- 
appointed shepherd of the people. In other words, 
the ungrateful nation is to be punished by the re- 
moval of the faithful ruler. Two-thirds of the people 
will perish. The remainder will be purified by trial, 
until they once more deserve the name of Jehovah's 
people and acknowledge Him as their God (xiii. 7-9). 


(e)xiv. l- Finally, the book closes with the vision of a 

great day of judgement and redemption. Jehovah 
gathers the nations against Jerusalem; the city is 
taken and plundered ; half of its inhabitants are 
carried away into captivity. Then Jehovah conies 
forth to battle against the nations, and at the 
touch of His feet the Mount of Olives is cleft 
asunder. He comes with His attendant angels in 
a weird day of gloom 1 which ends in light. From 
Jerusalem shall go forth an unfailing stream of 
living waters to fertilise the land. Jehovah will 
be undisputed King. Jerusalem will be exalted in 
the midst of a vast plain, rebuilt in its old extent, 
and once more securely inhabited. There will be 
no more curse or ban (1-11). 

(d) xxv. is- Meanwhile horrible plagues have overtaken the 
nations which fought against Jerusalem. They 
have perished by internecine warfare and by the 
hands of Judah's warriors (12-15). 

(e) xiv. ic- But the survivors of the nations will come year 
by year to worship Jehovah at Jerusalem. There 
will no longer be any need to distinguish between 
things sacred and profane, for all things alike will be 
consecrated to Jehovah. The ungodly and profane 
will no more enter the Temple (16-21). 

1 In xiv. 6 read, with R.V. marg., there shall not be light, the 
bright ones shall contract themselves: i.e. sun, moon, and stars 
are darkened. Cp. Joel ii. 10. 





The distinctive ideas of Zech. ix-xiv may be Distinetivt 

ideas of 

grouped under the heads of — (1) the Messianic King ; Zechariah 
(2) the rejected shepherd ; (3) the restored and 
penitent people ; (4) the divine sovereignty. 

(1) The familiar passage which predicts the 0)The 

K ' ... . Messianic 

advent of the Messianic King requires careful ?**?•<*• 

° ^ ix. y, iu. 


Rejoice exceedingly, daughter of Zion ; 

Shout triumphantly, daughter of Jerusalem : 

Behold thy King shall come to thee; 

Righteous and saved is He ; 

Lowly, and riding upon an ass, 

Even upon a colt, the foal of an ass. 

And He shall cut off 1 the chariot from Ephraim, 

And the horse from Jerusalem, 

And the battle bow shall be cut off; 

And He shall proclaim peace unto the nations: 

And His dominion shall be from sea to sea, 

And from the River unto the ends of the earth. 

In days when Zion had no king, if we are right 
in assigning this prophecy to the post-exilic period, 
the prophet, in the inspiration of unshaken faith, 
reiterates the promises of his predecessors. While 
in the course of divine judgement the king perishes 
from Gaza (ix. 5), Zion's King shall come to her. He 
comes as the Prince of Peace. The features of the 

1 So the LXX for I will cut off. 


portrait are repeated from Isaiah and Micah, but 
with significant differences. He is righteous ; for as 
righteousness is an essential attribute of Jehovah, 
so it must be an attribute of that king who is His 
true representative, and of the age in which His will 
is to be realised. Jehovah is our righteousness is the 
name alike of the Messianic King and of the re- 
deemed city (Jer. xxiii. 6 ; xxxiii. 16). And He is 
saved, or, given the victory} • As Israel is a people saved 
hy Jehovah (Deut. xxxiii. 29), so Israel's King comes 
to her victorious over all His enemies by Jehovah's 
help (Ps. cxliv. 10). By that deliverance Jehovah 
publicly attests His righteousness in the sight of the 
world. But — strange paradox ! — this victorious King 
is lowly. Literally the word means afflicted ; but it is 
used of one who has passed through the school of 
suffering, and learnt in it the lesson of humility, 
and it may fairly be rendered lowly. He comes 
in the guise of peace, riding, not upon a horse, 
which would have been suggestive of war and 
worldly power (cp. x. 5), but upon an ass, the 
animal ordinarily used even by kings and princes 
in time of peace. It is a colt, unused before, 
and therefore fit for the sacred service of bearing 
Jehovah's representative. The purpose of His ad- 
vent is to destroy the implements and furniture of 

1 The participle is passive, and cannot be rendered actively as 
in the ancient versions. Having salvation (A. V. and R.V.) is 
ambiguous. Contrast Isa. xlv. 21 {a God who is righteous and a 
saviour) where the active participle of the same verb is used. 


war from the reunited nation over which He is 
to rule in the full extent of the Promised Land 
(Exod. xxiii. 31), and to proclaim peace to all the 
nations. It is not wholly clear whether the prophet 
regards the war of which he speaks in ix. 13 ff. 
as preceding and preparing the way for the advent 
of the King, or whether he foresees that even the 
Prince of Peace must fight before He can secure 
the peace which it is His purpose to establish, and 
can settle His people in undisturbed security in 
their land. But peace is the true note of His rule ; 
it is put in the forefront as the final purpose of His 

In the main the prophet repeats the picture 
drawn by his predecessors, but the new features 
which he introduces are significant. All that is 
implied in the words saved and lowly is fresh. They 
speak of triumph through suffering, and sum up 
in brief the ideas connected with the suffering Ser- 
vant of Jehovah described by the Isaiah of the Exile 
(p. 395). That new revelation of the way in which 
God's purposes of redemption were to be worked out 
has modified the expectation of the Messianic King. 
It may be uncertain whether the prophet himself 
foresaw that the parallel lines of prophecy of the 
triumphant King and the suffering Servant were 
destined ultimately to meet and be fulfilled in one 
Person ; but it is clear that he was guided by 
the Spirit to give a new turn to the hope of Israel 
2 H 


which might guide thoughtful minds in Israel to 
welcome as their Kiug Him who came in lowliest 
guise as a servant. 
(«)The (2) Jeremiah had prophesied of the divine judge- 


shepherd, ment which was to be executed upon the faithless 

ch xx. U-17 ; r 

xiii. l-o. shepherds of Israel, a term which includes not 
kings only, but all the ruling and leading classes 
— kings, princes, priests, prophets — to whom the 
charge and oversight of the people was committed. 
He had promised that Jehovah would raise up 
faithful shepherds in the time of the restoration 
of Israel, and, in particular, the righteous Shoot of 
the house of David (Jer. xxiii. 1-8). 

Ezekiel in the land of exile had echoed the 
same warning and the same promise. The selfish 
shepherds who cared only for their own interests 
must be punished, and in their place Jehovah will 
set up one shepherd, even His servant David (Ezek. 
xxxiv ; xxxvii. 24 ff.). 

These prophecies lie in the background of ch. xi, 
and it is necessary to bear them in mind in order 
to understand this difficult passage. As in ch. ix 
the prophet resumes with significant modifications 
the earlier prophecies of the Messianic King, so 
here he resumes the earlier prophecies of the true 
Shepherd, in a form which was a most pregnant 
warning to his countrymen. The warning is thrown 
into the form of a parable or allegory, which sets 
forth the divine purpose for Israel, and its frustration 


by the wilful and contemptuous ingratitude of the 

At Jehovah's command, and as His representative, 
the prophet takes charge of the flock which has 
been so cruelly neglected and maltreated by those 
who were responsible for its care. The impending 
judgement upon the inhabitants of the world, in 
which nations will be sacrificed to the ambition and 
caprice of their rulers, makes this the more necessary. 
As the insignia of his office, the prophet takes two 
pastoral staves. One he names Graciousness, 1 to 
signify Jehovah's goodwill towards His people; the 
other he names Union (lit. Binders), to indicate the 
reunion of Judah and Israel. As speedily as possible 
he removes the three faithless shepherds. It is un- 
necessary to attach a precise meaning to the three 
shepherds, and interpret them to mean the three 
leading classes of kings, prophets, and priests ; or 
the three world-kingdoms ; or some three particular 
oppressors of Israel, such as Antiochus Epiphanes, 
Antiochus Eupator, and Demetrius. They are a 
part of the furniture of the allegory, and their 
removal by the prophet within a month is intended 
to signify God's intention to deal promptly and 
effectually with the oppressors of His people, who- 
ever they may be. But His purpose is frustrated 
by the wilfulness of the people. The prophet- 

1 Or, Pleasantness: the gracious kindliness of Jehovah. Cp. 
Ps. xxvii. 4 ; xc. 17. 


shepherd's soul was vexed with their obstinacy, 
and their soul also loathed him. He determines 
to leave them to their fate, as they deserved. 
He breaks the staff Graciousness in token that 
the covenant which had been made with all 
the peoples not to injure Israel was annulled. 
These most miserable of sheep knew of a truth, 1 as 
they observed their shepherd's action, that he was 
only obeying the divine command. But they re- 
fused to take warning. When he asks whether they 
wish him to give up or retain his charge, they bid 
him go, and in evident contempt weigh out to him 
the thirty pieces of silver which were the legal 
compensation for an injured slave (Exod. xxi. 32). 
By divine command he casts them into the Temple 
treasury, 2 intimating thereby in the most public 
manner that the insult was not offered to him so 
much as to his master Jehovah, Whose representative 
they had thus contumeliously rejected (cp. 1 Sam. 
viii. V). His service at an end, he breaks his 

1 There does not seem to be any ground for supposing that 
cither in v. 7 or in ». 11a faithful minority are spoken of as the 
poor of the flock. If the text is sound, the flock destined by its 
owners for the slaughter is described as the most miserable of sheep. 
The mention of their miserable condition emphasises their folly in 
rejecting the good shepherd. But the text is suspicious, and the 
LXX suggests that we should read in v. 7, So I fed the flock of 
slaughter for them that made merchandise of it : and in v. 11, So 
they that made merchandise of the flock knew, etc. 

2 This rendering, which is supported by the Syriac Version, 
gives an intelligible sense. No satisfactory explanation of cast it 
unto the potter can be given. 


second staff Union, in token of the dissolution of the 
union between Judah and Israel which would follow 
upon their rejection of the divinely-appointed ruler. 

A second act in the allegory follows. The 
prophet is commanded to assume the character of a 
foolish shepherd, in token that, as a judgement upon 
these misguided sheep who refuse their true shep- 
herd, Jehovah will not merely leave them to them- 
selves, but abandon them to the pitiless cruelties of a 
worthless shepherd, who, nevertheless, in the end 
will not escape the retribution he deserves. 

The prophet's message is clearly conveyed in the 
form of an allegory. It is not necessary to suppose 
that the prophet actually personated the good and 
the bad shepherd, any more than it is to suppose 
that Jeremiah presented the cup of Jehovah's wrath 
against the nations before his auditors in some visible 
form (xxv. 17). It was, no doubt, common for the 
prophets to use symbolical action, but it is difficult 
to see how some of the features of this transaction 
could have been actually represented, and it is best to 
regard the whole as simply an allegory or parable. 

It is a solemn warning of the way in which divine 
grace may be frustrated by human obstinacy. The 
truth which it conveys had been abundantly illus- 
trated in the past history of Israel. It was to receive 
a more terrible illustration in the subsequent history 
of the nation. What may have been to the prophet's 
mind the precise connexion between this prophecy 


and the one which precedes is obscure. Very prob- 
ably they were written at a wide interval of time, 
and under wholly different circumstances. Perhaps 
he did not intend to place the rejection of the Good 
Shepherd in any precise chronological relation to 
the advent of the Messianic King and the reunion 
of Judah and Ephraim. But its significance cannot 
be mistaken. By the side of the splendid promises 
of chaps, ix and x he is taught to set this solemn 
warning that even in the age to come Israel might 
choose the evil and refuse the good, and frustrate the 
fulfilment of the promise. 
ch.xiii.7-9. A third and concluding act in the tragedy still 
remains. Strangely isolated as these verses are where 
they now stand, it cannot be doubted that w. 7-9 of 
ch. xiii must be read in connexion with the allegory 
which we have been considering. For a judgement 
upon the guilty people the sword is summoned to 
smite the good shepherd. The consequence of his 
death is the dispersion of the flock. Yet in the 
midst of calamity a remnant is preserved; it is re- 
fined in the fire of trial, and finally brought once 
more into covenant-relation with Jehovah. 

It has been suggested that these verses originally 
formed the conclusion of ch. xi, and should be 
restored to that position. Whether this is done or 
not, it is clear that they must be taken in connexion 
with that chapter. Their present position is an un- 
explained enigma. But they cannot refer to the 


judgement upon the worthless shepherd. It is incon- 
ceivable that Jehovah should call him My shepherd, 
and the man that is My fellow. Does the prophet 
then see the good shepherd prematurely slain in 
battle, like Josiah at Megiddo, or does he foresee that 
the people will crown the ingratitude which has 
already rejected him by murdering their deliverer? 
The words in themselves give no answer to the ques- 
tion. But it is hard not to see in them the key to 
the obscure allusion in ch. xii. 10 ff. to the murder 
for which the penitent nation must mourn. And 
thus the prophecy of the Good Shepherd, like that 
of the Messianic King, is linked with that of the 
suffering Servant in Isa. liii. The murder, which is 
the guilty nation's sin, and by which it brings to 
pass its own punishment, is in its other aspect an 
atoning sacrifice, accomplishing the divine purpose 
of redemption (Isa. liii. 10). 

(3) The ninth and tenth chapters foretell the (s)T/, e 

t i t mi restored and 

restoration and reunion ol Israel and Judah. lhe penitent 


eleventh chapter appears to sound a note of warning, 
that through the obstinate folly of the people that 
brotherhood might again be dissolved and the nation 
subjected to long and severe chastisements. In chaps, 
xii-xiv the scene changes. Jerusalem is the centre 
of interest. Eesuming the prophecies of Ezekiel, the 
writer tells of the final muster of all the nations of 
the earth for one desperate effort to destroy the city 
of God. In one act of the drama they appear to be 


triumphantly repulsed (ch. xii. 2 ff.) ; in the other 
Jerusalem is captured and plundered (xiv. 2). Then 
and not till then does Jehovah Himself interpose 
(xiv. 3). But in both cases the ultimate result is the 
same. Her assailants are discomfited and destroyed. 
But the day of Jerusalem's deliverance is a day of 
national mourning. Jerusalem is not only to be out- 
wardly delivered but to be inwardly cleansed. Kepent- 
ance is the condition of cleansing, and it is brought 
about by a special outpouring of divine grace. And 
it shall come to pass in that day, that . . . I will 
pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabit- 
ants of Jerusalem, a spirit of grace and of suppli- 
cation ; and they shall look unto Me, even him whom 
they thrust through ; and they shall lament for him, 
as men lament for an only son, and mourn bitterly 
for him, as men mourn bitterly for the firstborn 
(xii. 10). As the text stands, 1 the words can have 
but one meaning, startling as that meaning is. It is 
Jehovah who has been thrust through and slain in 
the person of His representative. In the guilt of 
this murder all the nation has participated, and for 

1 The difficulty of the text is very great. Could the prophet 
have .spoken of thrusting Jehovah through? The construction, too, 
is anomalous, and excites suspicion. It has been conjectured that 
we should read they shall look unto him whom tliey thrust through. 
The change is easy ; it is supported by some MSS., and seems 
to be required by the next clause. But all the versions attest the 
reading unto me. Some MSS. of the LXX indeed have eh 6v 
i^tKivTiqaav, unto him who?n they pierced ; but this reading is prob- 
ably derived from St. John xix. 37. 


it the whole nation must mourn with a solemn and 
universal mourning, in which all take part. The 
house of David with its subordinate branches, of 
which the family of Nathan is instanced as one, and 
the house of Levi with its subordinate branches, of 
which the family of the Shimeites is instanced as 
one, set the example to the whole nation. This peni- 
tence is the fruit of the spirit which has been poured 
out upon them; and the divine response to this 
penitence is the opening of a cleansing fountain for 
sin and for impurity (xiii. 1). The ceremonial law 
provided from time to time lustrations for those who 
were defiled by touching the dead (Num. xix), but 
here shall be a perennial fountain, ever open to 
cleanse away this guilt of murder and all sin. Idol- 
atry and false prophecy will be finally and entirely 
eradicated from the land (xiii. 2 ft'.). 

But who, we ask, is it for whose murder the 
nation needs an atonement ? The passage as it 
stands is an unsolved enigma. Must we not, as has 
already been suggested, find the key to its solution in 
ch. xiii. 7-9 ? whether we assume that these verses 
originally preceded, and for some unknown reason 
have been transferred from their original position 
at the close of ch. xi; or that the prophet, with 
the crime in full view in his own mind, does not 
interrupt his narrative in order to explain, and only 
returns afterwards to give the needful clue when he 
has completed his vision of the future. 


,i) The (4) It may be questioned whether the prophet 


sovereignty, intended ch. xiv to be understood as parallel to chaps, 
xii, xiii, or as a sequel to them. Perhaps the question 
would not have presented itself to his mind, whether 
these two acts in the great world-drama of Judgement 
and Redemption were to be simultaneous or succes- 
sive. However that may be, in ch. xiv we have 
presented to us the vision of a great day of Jehovah. 
It is a weird day of gloom, but at evening time there 
shall be light. In the last extremity, when Jeru- 
salem has been taken and plundered, Jehovah comes 
with His attendant angels, in storm and earthquake, 
and routs Jerusalem's foes, who perish by terrible 
plagues and internecine strife. Then Jehovah shall 
become king over all the earth. No other gods will 
dispute His sovereignty. No ambiguous names will 
divide His unity. Under the figure of physical 
change, which leaves Jerusalem towering majestically 
in the centre of a level plain, is indicated the supreme 
importance of the city. The living waters which 
issue from her symbolise her life-giving energies. 
The remnant of the nations which once menaced her 
existence now come to worship the King, Jehovah 
of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. There 
shall be no more anything accursed. There will no 
longer be a distinction between things sacred and 
things profane, where all will bear the stamp of 
consecration. Jerusalem will be, not in name but 
in reality, the holy city. The goal will be attained 


towards which one prophet after another had strained 
his eyes. The seer of Patmos almost repeats the 
words as he hids us still look forward to it. 

Zion's King came to her. Deliberately Jesus The 


presented Himself to the people as their King by 

riding into Jerusalem upon the ass' colt. The 

outward form was not the essential part of the 

prophecy. He might have fulfilled the prophecy 

without thus acting it out to the letter. But He 

would have the people know by a sign which the 

most ignorant could not mistake what He claimed 

to be. They knew Him and they welcomed Him ; 

and yet within one short week they fulfilled the 

other prophecy of the rejected shepherd. For 

whatever minor meaning or previous fulfilment the 

allegory of the true shepherd may have had, we 

cannot doubt that it pointed forward to the Good 

Shepherd who was rejected, betrayed, and crucified 

by those whom He came to save. 1 The warning of 

the allegory fell unheeded upon their ears. Of Him, 

as of no other, could God speak as the man that is 

My fellow. The penitent looking unto Him whom 

they had pierced began upon the day of Pentecost, 

when three thousand were pricked in the heart. It 

will be consummated when He comes with the clouds, 

1 This is not the place to enter upon the complicated difficulties 
of the quotation in Matt, xxvii. 9. 


and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced 
in m, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over 

If the view which has here heen taken of the 
later chapters is correct, the Book of Zechariah as a 
whole occupies a position of remarkable importance 
in the development of Messianic prophecy. It knits 
together lines of thought and hope which before were 
separate. In the first part, as we have seen, the 
union of the offices of Priest and King in the person 
of the Messiah is prefigured (p. 439 ff.). In the second 
part, we have at least a hint and suggestion of the 
union of the prophecies of the Royal Messiah and 
the suffering Servant of Jehovah (p. 465), and a dark 
shadow of warning falls across the brightness of the 
prospect. When Israel's true shepherd comes he will 
be contemptuously rejected, nay, put to death by an 
ungrateful people. 

Thus step by step prophecy moved towards the 
appointed goal. And so it came to pass, in fulfilment 
even more strangely tragical than could ever have 
been anticipated. He came, and they made the crown 
of thorns His diadem and the Cross His throne. 

Note A. — Ox Ch. ix. 13. 

Kuenen (EinL § 81, n. 6 : cp. also Konig, EinJ. § 73, 3 d) 
justly remarks that the reading of this verse is not above 
suspicion, and with equal justice rejects two emendations 
which have been proposed, neither of which can be said to be 
at all plausible. But he does not suggest what seems to me 

xv ZECHARIAH IX. 13 477 

the true remedy, the omission of the words against thy sons, 
Greece. The allusion to Greece is quite isolated. Its 
defmiteness is unlike the generality which in the main 
characterises the passage. The words disturb the balance of 
the clauses. The enemy is not addressed elsewhere in the 
context, but the covenant people. Nothing could have been 
more natural than the insertion of such a gloss in the 
Maccabaean times, and it was facilitated by a misunderstand- 
ing of the meaning of the clause to which it was added. 
Lastly, the differences of reading represented by the LXX, 
against the sons of the Greeks, and the Targum, against the sons 
of the peoples, are an indication, though slight, that the words 
were not part of the original text, or were differently read. 

Now for the meaning of the words, 'rmijn is usually 
rendered and stir up. But this rendering interrupts the 
series of metaphors. Judah is the bow which Jehovah 
bends ; Ephraim is the arrow which He places upon its string ; 
Zion He will make as a hero's sword. Now, is it not clear 
that vmijn ought to be taken in the sense of wielding or 
hurling a spear, which it bears in 2 Sam. xxiii. 18? (cp. Isa. 
x. 26). Zion's sons are Jehovah's spear, and the series of 
metaphors is complete. Next observe the gain to the rhythm 
by the omission of the words p' fn hy. The verse will then 
consist of four equal clauses, which may thus be represented 
in translation, though in the Hebrew bow belongs to the 
second line : 

For I bend me Judah for a bow, 

Lay Ephraim on it for an arrow, 

Wield thy sons, Zion, for a spear, 

And make thee as a hero's sword. 
How easy for a scribe in the Maccabaean age, not recognising 
the metaphor of the third line, and understanding the verb 
to mean stir up, to think that the clause required a supple- 
ment, and to add his interpretative gloss, against thy sons, 

478 ZECHARIAH XIV. 5 lect. xv 

Note B. — On Ch. xiv. 5. 

The first word of this verse is one of the very few cases in 
which the difference between the " Eastern" and " Western" 
tradition as to the reading affects the sense. The Western 
reading, which is that of our printed texts, is dbwi and ye 
shall flee ; the Eastern reading is onp:i and it shall be stopped. 
This is the reading followed by the LXX, Aq., Synim., 
Theod., and the Targum. The LXX, Aq., Symiu., and Theod., 
but not the Targum, render the word in the same way where it 
recurs in the verse. It seems to me that there is much to 
be said in favour of adopting this reading. The verse will 
then run : And the valley of My mountains shall be blocked up 
. . . yea it shall be blocked up as it was blocked up by the earth- 
quake in the days of Uzziah king ofJudah. Even if the pre-exilic 
date is adopted for these chapters, the expression as ye fled in 
reference to an event which happened 150 years before would 
be strange. But it would not be strange for a writer, even 
after the Exile, to point to some great landslip, by which the 
memory of that terrible earthquake was still visibly preserved. 

When this note was originally written, I had not noticed 
the remarkable confirmation which the theory it puts for- 
ward receives from Josephus (Ant. Jud. ix. 10, 4). He relates 
that the earthquake occurred at the moment when Uzziah 
was impiously attempting to force his way into the Temple 
to burn incense. He threatened the priests who endeavoured 
to resist him with death ; " but meanwhile a great earthquake 
shook the ground, and the Temple opened, and a brilliant 
light shone out of it, and struck the king's face, so that he 
was forthwith smitten with leprosy : while in front of the 
city, at the place which is called Eroge, half of the mountain 
toward the west was broken off, and rolling four furlongs to 
the mountain on the east stopped there, so that the passages 
and the king's gardens were blocked up." The word for 
" blocked up " used by Josephus (i/jLcfipayrjvai) is the same as 
that which is used in the LXX here. 



Then tte moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed ; because 
Jehovah of hosts is become King in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, 
and in the presence of His elders shall be glory. — Isaiah xxiv. 23. 

These four chapters form a connected whole, dis- character- 
istics of 
tinguished by marked characteristics of style and Isa } ah .. 

contents. They contain a sublime drama of judge- 
ment and redemption, which forms an appropriate 
finale to the collection of prophecies concerning the 
nations. The various acts of Jehovah's government 
of the world culminate in the visible manifestation 
of His sovereignty, and in the blessings of His reign 
not Israel only but the nations participate. 

The contents of these chapters are rightly described 
by Delitzsch as " eschatological and apocalyptic." 
They draw aside the veil which hides the ultimate 
accomplishment of the divine counsels ; they point 
forward to the final consummation of all things ; 
they present a vision of glory which may serve at once 


as a consolation and an encouragement in a time 
of distress and disappointment. 

It is to this apocalyptic character that they owe 
their peculiar difficulties. The standpoint of the 
writer is shifted from the present to the future, and 
from the future back to the present. It is often 
impossible to determine whether he is speaking of 
what is actually past, or only of what is past from 
some assumed standpoint in the future. Again and 
again the historical circumstances under which he 
writes seem to be on the point of disclosing themselves 
only to elude us like a mirage when we try to fix 
their details. The truth is that he has drawn his 
materials from past history, but has generalised and 
idealised those materials as he recombines them into 
a new picture upon a grander scale. It is not to be 
wondered at that there has been the widest divergence 
of views as to the interpretation and the date of this 
prophecy. There is much in it which may seem to 
confirm the tradition that Isaiah was the author; 
but there is more which points to a date shortly 
after the Return from the Captivity. " This cannot 
be denied," is the verdict of Delitzsch in the last 
edition of his Isaiah, published in 1889, less than a 
year before his death, " that the contents, in order to 
be assigned to their proper place in the development 
of Old Testament revelation, point to an age later 
than that of Isaiah. The author is not Isaiah, but a 
disciple of Isaiah, who here surpasses his master. 


Isaiah is great in himself, greater in his disciples, as 
rivers are greater than the source from which they 


The justification of this view must be based upon contents oj 
a careful examination of the contents of these chapters ^ a ?!i ers - . 

L (1) (Jn. xxiv 

and of their characteristic teaching. The prophecy 
opens with a vision of universal judgement upon the 
inhabitants of the earth, because they have transgressed 
laws, violated statutes, broken the primeval covenant. 
It falls upon all ranks and classes of society alike. 
All festivity is at an end. The country is desolate ; 
the cities are deserted. A few scattered inhabitants 
only are left, like the scattered berries which remain 
on the olive trees after they have been beaten, or the 
scanty remnant of grapes which gleaners find when 
the vintage is done (xxiv. 1-13). 

But on them judgement has done its work. They 
recognise Jehovah as its author and pay Him homage. 
These shall lift up their voice, they shall shout ; for the 
majesty of Jehovah they cry aloud from the sea. As 
they glorify Jehovah, they chant the praises of His 
people, which reach the ears of the prophet and his 
companions. From the ends of the earth have we heard 
songs, 'Honour to the righteous.' But the actual state 
of that people is in sad contrast to what it should be. 
As he thinks of all that Israel has suffered from its 
persecutors, he can only cry, / pine away, I pine 
2 i 


away, woe is me! The treacherous dealers have dealt 
treacherously ; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt 
very treacherously. The rift in the clouds closes, and 
the vision of judgement returns in more terrible form 
than before. It is described as a second deluge. The 
windows on high are opened, and the foundations of 
the earth do shake. Crushed under the weight of the 
transgression of its inhabitants the earth perishes. 
It shall fall and not rise again (14-20). 

At the same time Jehovah will punish the host of 
the high ones on high — heavenly beings which are in 
some mysterious way connected with the history of 
the world, and have misused their power and authority 
— and the kings of the earth upon the earth: and when 
all authorities and powers have been judged according 
to their deserts, Jehovah will manifest Himself as 
King in Zion. The elders of His people will be 
admitted to His immediate presence and see His 
glory, as of old the elders of Israel saw it in the 
wilderness (21-23). 
(?) ch. xzv Transported in spirit into that glorious future, the 
prophet praises Jehovah for the wonders which He 
has wrought. He has proved Himself the strong- 
hold of His people, while the city which was the 
impersonation of hostility to Judah is laid in ruins. 
As they see these judgements, the fiercest and most 
despotic nations pay Him reverence. All peoples 
are admitted to share the blessings of His kingdom. 
Right royally He entertains them in His capital 


There He destroys the veil of ignorance, of suffering, 
of sin — all that has darkened the life of humanity — 
nay, death itself. He hath swallowed up death for 
ever ; and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from 
off all faces ; and the reproach of His people shall He 
take away from off all the earth (xxv. 1-8). 

And while glad songs resound from this ransomed 
community, Moab, the typical example of contemptu- 
ous pride, which had rejoiced with malicious joy over 
Judah's fall, is reduced to helpless ignominy, and its 
strong cities are levelled to the ground (9-12). 

Once more the ransomed community raises its (s)Ch.axn. 
voice of praise. While the lofty city of worldly 
power is laid low, they can sing We have a strong 
city, guarded by no perishable defences, for salvation 
doth He appoint for walls and btdwarks. It is to be 
peopled with worthy citizens. Open the gates, that a 
righteous nation may enter which keepeth faithfulness. 
Its confidence is in the Rock of Ages. In grateful 
retrospect the redeemed recount how they had waited 
for Jehovah to come in judgement, for only through 
judgement would the inhabitants of the world learn 
righteousness. Though they refuse at first to see it, 
they will be compelled to recognise Jehovah's uplifted 
hand, and to acknowledge His zeal for His people. 
For a time He had surrendered them to the dominion of 
other masters, but now through His grace, and through 
this alone, they can once more celebrate His praises. 
Their enemies have perished for ever ; and Jehovah 


has glorified Himself by multiplying His people and 
extending the boundaries of their land (xxvi. 1-15). 

They recall the prayers which they offered in the 
time of chastisement : the birthpangs which seemed 
so ineffectual for the production of a regenerate 
nation. And the divine answer comes that by a 
supreme act of grace the dead shall live. Thy dead 
shall live; thy dead bodies shall arise. Awake and 
sing, ye that dwell in dust : for thy dew is dew of light, 
and the earth shall give birth to the dead (16-19). 

But before that glorious future is attained, the 
world must be judged. The people of God are bidden 
to take refuge as Noah took refuge in the Ark from 
the rising Flood, as the Israelites in Egypt took refuge 
in. their houses from the destroying angel, for a little 
moment, until the indignation be overpast. For Jehovah 
will appear to punish the crimes of the world, and 
in particular its wanton bloodshed, which cries aloud 
for vengeance and can no longer be concealed (20, 21). 
[k)Ch.xxvu The great powers of the world, represented as the 
huge and terrible monsters of fable, will be destroyed 
(xxvii. 1). Then, breaking once more into song, the 
prophet furnishes Israel of the future with a hymn of 
praise to celebrate Jehovah's care of His vineyard. 
That vineyard will at length respond to His care, and 
produce the fruit which He desires. Israel will once 
more flourish, for Jehovah has not smitten it to 
destroy it as He smote its persecutors. The iniquity 
of Jacob will be blotted out by this chastisement, in 


which his altars have been utterly destroyed. Never 
again will his idolatrous emblems be set up. For 
his fortified cities 1 have been broken down; cattle 
feed and women gather firewood among their ruins. 
And why ? Because Israel has no discernment ; it 
does not know its Maker, and therefore He shews 
them no compassion (2-11). 

Yet in the distant future Jehovah will gather 
every grain of corn in the garner of His land, and 
summon His banished outcasts to return from the 
lands of their captivity. The King will receive the 
homage of His subjects. They shall worship Jehovah 
in the holy mountain in Jerusalem (12, 13). 


This rapid survey may suffice to shew how DMincthe 


various scenes in the great drama of judgement and 
redemption are passed in review to strengthen faith 
and kindle hope by pointing forward to the final 
crisis. The unity of the prophecy is not the unity 
of an orderly chronological succession, but the unity 
of the divine purpose, which determines all Jehovah's 

1 The context requires that the defenced city in ch. xxvii. 10 
should be understood of Jerusalem, including perhaps other cities 
of Judah. The people of no discernment must be Israel (cp. i. 3) : 
the conclusion of the verse leaves no doubt on this point. The 
terms he that made them, . . . he that formed them, would not be 
used in reference to a heathen nation. Cp. xliii. 1 ; xliv. 2, 24, 
etc. Moreover, as v. 9 is clearly a reminiscence of xvii. 8, so v. 10 
is suggested by xvii. 9. 



(2) Judge- 
ment of the 

(3) Restora- 
tion of 

dealings with His people and with the world. The 
same thoughts recur again and again in different 
connexions; and it may be worth while to en- 
deavour to gather together and present in a con- 
nected form, the characteristic ideas of these 
chapters, with the caution that they are not to be 
regarded as a historical chart of the course of events, 
but rather as an exposition of the principles of the 
divine government of the world, leading up to the 
final consummation of all things, in the manifestation 
of Jehovah's undisputed sovereignty. 

(1) It is through an universal judgement that the 
way for the reign of Jehovah must be prepared. 
The world's guilt demands a signal retribution ; and 
it is only through judgement that the inhabitants of 
the world can be taught righteousness. Typical 
examples of judgement are given. The great cities 
in which the world's power and the world's guilt 
are concentrated are laid in ruins. Moab, notori- 
ous for its pride, is ignominiously humiliated. 
Ferocious nations, for which fabulous monsters are 
the only fitting symbols, 1 are destroyed. 

(2) But while the cities of the world perish, the 
city of God arises with a new splendour. While 
Israel's oppressors perish to revive no more, Israel's 

1 "Leviathan the swift serpent, and leviathan the crooked 
serpent, and the dragon that is in the sea" (xxvii. 1) are commonly 
interpreted to mean Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. But the apoca- 
lyptic imagery is designedly indefinite, and is intended to describe 
the enemies of God and His people, whoever they may be. 


dead are raised to life. While pride is humbled, 
humility is exalted. The scattered Israelites will be 
gathered. Not one sound grain of wheat will be lost 
in the Lord's harvest. The boundaries of the land 
will be enlarged, and it will be peopled by more 
numerous inhabitants than ever before. 

(3) Israel is not only restored, but regenerated, (s) Regener 

v J J ° ationoj 

The discipline of punishment has done the work for Israel. 
which it was designed. Correction not destruction 
was its purpose. Throughout the dark night of 
sorrow faithful souls were waiting patiently for 
Jehovah to come and save them Nor was their 
hope misplaced. At length He ordains peace for 
them. It is of His grace that they can once more 
celebrate His praises. A righteous nation returns 
to occupy the city in place of the sinful nation 
which was exiled from it. The vineyard which 
once disappointed its Owner, and provoked Him to 
break down its fences, and leave it to lie waste, now 
yields abundant fruit. 

(4) But Israel does not enjoy the blessings of (/>) conver- 

sion of tlie 
Jehovah's reign alone. Judgement has taught the nations. 

nations as it has taught Israel. The scanty rem- 
nant which escapes in the great catastrophe pays 
Him homage. Mighty nations glorify Him when 
they see His power manifested upon nations no less 
powerful than themselves. All antagonism to Him and 
to His people is at an end. Zion becomes the centre 
of blessing for all the world. The participation of all 


nations in the blessedness of Jehovah's people is 
described under the figure of a rich feast which 
Jehovah makes for them there. 

But this is not all. Zion is the scene of their 
deliverance from that veil of ignorance and sorrow 
and sin which has darkened human life. While 
Jehovah removes the reproach of His people from 
off all the earth, so that their relation to Him and 
His to them is fully known, He swallows up death 
for ever, and wipes away tears from off all faces. 
The attainder of the Fall is reversed. Paradise is 


Authorship Why should this remarkable prophecy not be 

and date. 

regarded as Isaiah's ? and what are the grounds for 
placing it in the period after the Eeturn from 
Babylon ? A majority of modern critics agree in 
thinking that this prophecy cannot have come from 
the pen of Isaiah, because the style and language, 
the distinctive ideas, and the historical background, 
are all unlike those of the acknowledged prophecies 
of Isaiah. Style and language might no doubt have 
altered with advancing years, and with the char- 
acter of the subject. Isaiah's spiritual vision might 
doubtless have been strengthened, and the veil drawn 
aside that he might gaze into the future, when in 
old age he retired from active life, to contemplate 
the final issues of the divine counsels to which the 


great movements of his own age had been leading up. 
The historical allusions are confessedly indefinite, 
because they are generalised and used as symbols of 
more marvellous deliverances and more stupendous 
catastrophes. Yet when every allowance has been 
made, it is difficult to resist the cumulative force 
of the combined arguments, which point to another 
prophet than Isaiah, and to a later age than the 
commencement of the seventh century. 

Historical events, it can hardly be doubted, form 
the groundwork of the prophet's eschatological 
pictures, though these events are not historically 
described but generalised and idealised. Some great 
catastrophe which has actually happened, serves as 
the model for the picture of the judgement of the 
world. Heavy as was the blow inflicted upon Judah 
by Sennacherib's invasion, it is a more terrible 
disaster than that. It can scarcely be any less 
calamity than the destruction of Jerusalem, and 
the desolation of the land which followed upon 
Nebuchadnezzar's deportation of the people. 1 

Some great city has fallen, whose fall serves as a 
type of the fall of the imperial city or cities which 
are contrasted with the city of God. The city may 
be Nineveh or Babylon ; but no other city of earlier 
times occupied the relation to Judah which these 
did. There was no other city whose fall could have 
offered so signal an example of divine judgement, or 

1 Ch. xxiv ; xxvii. 10 f. 


have been regarded, even typically, as the prelude 
to such far-reaching consequences. 

Israel has been punished for its sins. It has 
been scattered in distant lands. But punishment 
has borne fruit in penitence. Idolatry will never 
again be revived. Now although the standpoint of 
the writer is often an ideal one, it is difficult to 
resist the impression that the actual experience of 
the exile lies behind this language. A partial restora- 
tion appears to have already taken place, which is the 
earnest of a complete and perfect restoration. But 
it is still a day of reproach and distress. Calamities 
are impending upon the world in which God's 
people can hardly escape which will nevertheless 
prepare the way for their complete redemption. 

All these indications point to the period after the 
Eeturn from Babylon, as the time at which the 
prophecy was written. The place of writing was 
unquestionably Jerusalem. Zion is repeatedly spoken 
of as this mountain (xxv. 6, 7, 10). 

At what precise date after the Return it should 
be placed is more doubtful. But it may with some 
probability be assigned to the early part of this 
period. 1 The sufferings of the exile seem to be still 

1 Dillmann places it "in the first sixty or seventy years of the 
new Jerusalem " : Driver, with whom I am glad to find myself in 
agreement, though upon somewhat different grounds, in " the 
early post-exilic period" (Introduction to Lit. of O.T. 6 p. 221 ; cp. 
Isaiah, his Life and Times, 2nd ed., p. 119) ; Delitzsch (Messi- 
anische Weissagungen, p. 145), "in the exile or later," suggesting 
the possibility, which seems to me unlikely, that the author was 


comparatively recent. The idolatries of the pre- 
exilic period have not been forgotten. The indica- 
tions of the actual circumstances and hopes of the 
people, so far as they can be traced, correspond 
remarkably with the circumstances and hopes of the 
time of Haggai and Zechariah. It is a day of small 
things, but the restoration which has already been 
effected, insignificant as it may appear to the out- 
ward eye, is the pledge of a brilliant future. The 
judgement of the world, which prepares the way for 
the establishment of Jehovah's kingdom, corresponds 
to the shaking of nations and the overthrow of 
kingdoms and the punishment of Israel's oppressors, 
which are prominent features in Haggai and Zechariah. 
Yet there as here the union of the nations with 
Israel in the worship of Jehovah is confidently pre- 
dicted. There too as here, the presence of Jehovah 
among His people is contemplated as their glory and 
their security. 


Some of the prophecies concerning the nations Position 

• i -rv t and purpose 

incorporated in the Book of Isaiah appear to date 0/ these 

** chapters. 

from the period of the exile. The collection was 
therefore probably not completed until after the 
Return from Babylon. May it not be conjectured 

the author of Isa. xl-lxvi. Might the conjecture be hazarded that 
echoes of the great struggle between Asia and Europe (b.c. 500-480) 
reached Palestine, and gave the prophet the impulse, so far as the 
impulse came from external circumstances ? Cp. p. 494 f. 


that a disciple of Isaiah, deeply read in his master's 
prophecies and in the works of the other great pro- 
phets of the earlier period, composed this apocalyptic 
prophecy of judgement and redemption, as a fitting 
finale to the prophecies upon the nations ? Kevela- 
tion or Apocalypse is the last stage in the develop- 
ment of Prophecy ; and the writing which we are 
considering belongs to the transition stage between 
Prophecy and Apocalypse. If Eevelation is "the 
most attractive form in which hope can be offered to 
a people which has learnt to feel even in the deepest 
afflictions that they form a turning-point in the 
world's history," 1 the timeliness of this particular 
utterance is obvious. The temptation to despair 
must have pressed heavily even upon faithful souls 
in that first half-century of the Eeturn. The reality 
corresponded but meagrely to the glowing visions of 
the Book of Consolation. Could it be, they must 
often have asked, that through this weak and 
despised community Jehovah was working out His 
purposes ? Could this be the Zion of which it had 
been said, nations shall come to thy light and kings 
to the brightness of thy rising ? In such a crisis 
this prophet was raised up to reanimate fainting 
hearts by reasserting in a new form the old truth 
that the course of God's dealings with Israel and the 
world is through judgement to redemption, through 
death to life ; and that His unchanging principles of 

1 Bishop Westcott, Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, p. 73. 


action must result in the final manifestation of His 
absolute sovereignty. This seer was gifted by the 
Spirit with a power of vision which looks right 
onward to the end, foreshortening the intervening 
distance. St. Paul can but quote his words to 
describe the final triumph : Then shall come to pass 
the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in 
victory (1 Cor. xv. 54.). 1 The great voice out of the 
throne which the seer of Patmos heard does but 
echo them, and stamp them with the seal of the 
New Covenant as still the goal of Christian hope, 
when it proclaims, Behold the tabernacle of God is with 
men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be 
His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them, and 
be tluir God: and He shall wipe away every tear 
from their eyes ; and death shall be no more ; neither 
shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any 
more: the first things are passed away (Eev. xxi. 3,4). 

1 St. Paul's rendering victory is based upon the Aramaic mean- 
ing of the root from which is derived the word more correctly 
rendered for ever. 



The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple. — ■ 
Malachi iii. 1. 

Blank in After the Dedication of the Temple in B.C. 516 the 

the history . . in n 

of Judaea, curtain falls upon the fortunes of the little com- 

B.C. 516-1458. c 

munity in Judaea. Momentous events were happen- 
ing which shaped the course of the world's history 
for all time. The revolt of the Ionians from the 
supremacy of Persia (B.C. 500) led eventually to the 
Persian invasion of Greece. The names of Marathon 
(B.C. 490), Thermopylae, Salamis (b.c. 480), Plataea 
(B.C. 479), recall the memories of the heroic struggle 
which drove back the flood of Asiatic barbarism 
from the shores of Europe. For the most part the 
scene of the conflict was remote from Judaea. But 
the revolt of Egypt from Darius in B.C. 487, and 
again from Artaxerxes in B.C. 462-456 brought the 
clash of arms nearer. The Persian forces marched 

lect. xvii SILENCE OF HISTORY 495 

through Syria. It is scarcely possible that Judaea 
can have escaped without feeling some effects from 
the proximity of the Persian armies. Increased 
taxes, compulsory supply of provisions and baggage 
animals, possibly even personal impressment for the 
service of the Great King, pressed hardly on the 
struggling community. 1 

But to what extent the Jews were involved in 
these movements, and what were their mingled 
feelings of hope or fear as they watched the shaking 
of the nations around them, can only be conjectured. 
It has been suggested that the later chapters of 
Zechariah and Isaiah xxiv-xxvii may be voices 
which break the silence. But the suggestion has only 
a certain degree of probability ; and only two notices 
have come down to us of events which happened 
during the period of nearly sixty years which inter- 
vened between the completion of the Temple and 
the mission of Ezra. 2 (1) A brief note in Ezra iv. 6 
records the fact that in the beginning of the reign 
of Xerxes (b.c. 485) the enemies of Judah wrote an 
accusation against them to the Persian court. Were 

1 See Neh. v. 4 ; ix. 37. Syrians of Palestine are mentioned by 
Herodotus (vii. 89) as serving in the army of Xerxes. 

2 Ezra iv. 6-23 is certainly parenthetic. After relating the 
successful opposition of "the people of the land" to the building 
of the Temple, the compiler quotes other instances from later 
history in which they shewed a similar spirit of malicious opposi- 
tion. The narrative can only be regarded as continuous by the help 
of the violent expedient of identifying Ahasuerus with Cambyses, 
and Artaxerxes with Pseudo-Smerdis. 


they charged with complicity or at least sympathy 
with the Egyptian revolt of B.C. 487 ? (2) After the 
death of Xerxes (b.c. 465) it would seem that the 
Jews commenced to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 
The Persian officials in Syria, instigated by the enemies 
of the Jews among the mixed population of Samaria, 
and prompted rather by hatred of the Jews than by 
the loyalty to the king of which they made such 
profuse professions, wrote to Artaxerxes to warn him 
of the mischief which might ensue if the work was 
allowed to proceed. They obtained a decree to stop 
the building, and lost no time in enforcing it. The 
restoration of the walls was peremptorily suspended. 
rhe mission Not many years however can have passed before 

of Ezra, 

b.c. ass. Ezra went up from Babylon to Jerusalem. We do 
not know what were the causes which induced 
Artaxerxes to change his policy. Possibly circum- 
stances connected with the Egyptian revolt (b.c. 462- 
456) may have influenced him. Be that as it may, 
in the seventh year of his reign (b.c. 458) Ezra was 
despatched with full authority from the king and his 
seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and 
Jerusalem. All Israelites who wished to return were 
permitted to join him. He bore rich presents for 
the Temple and its services from the king and from 
his own fellow-countrymen. Orders were given to 
the treasurers of the trans-Euphratensian provinces 
to furnish supplies for the Temple. The ministers of 
religion were exempted from the payment of taxes. 


Ezra was commissioned to reorganise the civil govern- 
ment of the country, by appointing judges and magis- 
trates (Ezra vii). 

After a journey of four months Ezra arrived at 
Jerusalem. The treasures which had been brought 
were deposited in the Temple ; solemn sacrifices were 
offered by the returning exiles ; and the royal com- 
missions were delivered to the Persian officials, who 
furthered the people and the house of God (Ezra viii). 

After these preliminaries, the princes of the people 
proceeded to call Ezra's attention to the prevalent 
evil of intermarriage with the heathen, which was 
threatening to destroy the distinctive character of 
the nation. If we may judge from his consternation 
at the account which they gave, Ezra had had no 
conception of the extent to which the practice had 
spread. Encouraged by promises of support from 
the right-minded members of the community, he 
summoned the people to Jerusalem, and upbraided 
them with their trespass. In spite of some isolated 
attempts at opposition (Ezra x. 15, R.V.), he carried 
his point. A commission of inquiry was appointed, 
and the guilty parties were compelled to put away 
their heathen wives (Ezra ix, x). 

Again the curtain falls upon the history. A gap The mission 
of thirteen years separates the opening of the Book b.c. ms. 
of Nehemiah from the close of the Book of Ezra. 
What had happened in the interval we do not know, 
but apparently grave disasters had befallen Jeru- 
2 K 


salem, and Ezra's work of reformation had been 
abruptly suspended. The Egyptian rebellion had 
been suppressed, but Megabyzos, the satrap of Syria, 
had defied the king, and secured a measure of inde- 
pendence. 1 Possibly under these circumstances Ezra 
was no longer supported by the authority of Arta- 
xerxes, and the opposition which the dissolution of 
the heathen marriages must have excited found means 
to display itself. Possibly Jerusalem was in some 
way or other involved in the revolt of Megabyzos. 

At any rate the report which was brought by 
Hanani to his brother Nehemiah, who was cupbearer 
to Artaxerxes at Susa, shewed that Jerusalem was in 
a deplorable plight (Neh. i. 2 ff.). The gates of the 
city had been burnt, and breaches had been made in 
the walls. 2 Three or four months later he was en- 
abled to lay before Artaxerxes the wish of his heart. 
He obtained leave to go to Jerusalem and restore 
the ruined city. His first care on his arrival at 
Jerusalem was to repair the walls and the gates of the 
city (Neh. ii. 11 ff.). While this work was in pro- 
gress, complaint was made to him of serious social 
evils which had sprung up. Many of the poorer 
Jews had been compelled by the recent scarcity to 

1 See Sayce, Introd. to Ezra, etc. p. 64. 

2 It is plain that a recent disaster must be referred to in Neh. 
i. 2, 3. The wall must have been rebuilt previously, for it is de- 
scribed not as broken down (2 Kings xxv. 10), but as breached (cp. 
Neh. iv. 7) ; and the fact that the repair of the wall was completed 
in fifty-two days (vi. 15) makes it plain that it was not now eDtirelj 
rebuilt for the first time. 


mortgage their lands in order to get food, or to pay 
the royal tribute. Some had even been forced to 
surrender their children to their creditors as slaves. 
Nehemiah summoned an assembly, and persuaded 
the wealthy Jews to restore the lands of their poorer 
brethren, and to reduce or forego the interest which 
they had been exacting (Neh. v). 

Ezra now reappears upon the scene. A week 
after the completion of the wall, an assembly was 
held at which he publicly read the Book of the Law. 
The Feast of Tabernacles was solemnly celebrated in 
accordance with its provisions (Neh. viii). 1 

A solemn fast was then held. The people con- 
fessed their sins, praised God for His mercies to the 
nation in past times, and entreated the continuance 
of His favour. They then pledged themselves by a 
covenant to obey the law, and in particular to avoid 
mixed marriages, to keep the Sabbath and holy days, 
and to observe the regulations of the Sabbatical year. 
They agreed to pay a poll-tax for the service of the 
Temple ; they cast lots for the duty of providing 
wood for the altar ; and they pledged themselves duly 
to offer the first-fruits and to pay tithes for the support 
of the Levites. Provision was made for securing a 
sufficient population for Jerusalem, and the walls were 
dedicated with universal rejoicings (N"eh. ix-xii). 2 

1 Ps. cxviii very probably was written for tbis occasion. 

2 It bas been supposed with much probability that Ps. cxlvii 
was composed for the Dedication Festival. 


Nehemiah's Once more the narrative breaks off abruptly. 

second visit 

b.c. kss. Nehemiah was recalled to the Persian court, and 
when he again returned to Jerusalem he found 
that much of his good work had been undone. 1 
Eliashib the high priest had established Tobiah the 
Ammonite, with whom he was connected by mar- 
riage, in one of the chambers of the Temple. The 
portions assigned to the Levites had not been given 
to them, and consequently the service of the Temple 
had been suspended. Nehemiah expelled Tobiah, 
and restored the chamber to its proper use. He 
enforced the payment of the tithes, and committed 
the distribution of them to trustworthy treasurers. 
Next he took steps to put an end to the desecration 
of the Sabbath ; once more he condemned the pre- 
valent evil of mixed marriages; and finally after 
purifying the congregation enacted regulations for 
securing the due maintenance of the Temple services 
(Neh. xii). 


The prophet It is generally agreed that Malachi prophesied 


at some time during the period of which the history 
has been briefly sketched in the preceding pages. 
The mention of the governor of Judah (i. 8) proves 
that Judah was at the time a province of the Persian 
empire. The Temple was standing, and the sacrificial 
service was being carried on. The absence of any 

1 See Note A, p. 511. 


allusion to the Keturn from the Exile makes it prob- 
able that some time had elapsed since that event, 
and the distressed condition of the people, as well as 
the character and contents of the book, confirms this 

The precise date of Malachi's ministry is how- Date of hu 


ever uncertain. Of the various dates which have 
been suggested two deserve particular consideration. 
(1) The first of these is the interval between 
Nehemiah's two visits to Jerusalem. The abuses 
which Nehemiah found on his second visit were, as 
we have seen, the selfish and irreverent behaviour of 
the high priest, the general neglect of the Temple 
service, the non-payment of tithe, the desecration of 
the Sabbath, and mixed marriages. The evils which 
Malachi denounces are almost exactly the same : — 
the negligence of priests and people in the Temple 
service, the robbery of God by the withholding of 
tithes and offerings, the reckless divorce of Israelite 
wives and marriage of foreign women. Nehemiah 
does not mention divorce, and Malachi does not 
speak of the desecration of the Sabbath : but for the 
rest the correspondence is remarkably close. 1 On 
these grounds it is natural to connect the prophecy 
of Malachi with the times of Nehemiah, and parti- 
cularly with the interval between his two visits to 
Jerusalem rather than with a time when he was 

1 Comp. especially Mai. ii. 10-16 with Neh. xiii. 23 ff. ; Mai. 
iii. 8-10 with Neh. xiii. 10-12, 31 ; Mai. ii. 8 with Neh. xiii. 29. 

502 DATE OF MALACHI lect. 

actually there, for the allusion to the governor in 
ch. i. 8 points to the presence of a foreign governor, 
rather than to Nehemiah, who refused to avail him- 
self of his official allowances (Neh. v, 14 ff.). 

(2) On the other hand it has been urged that 
Malachi must have preceded Ezra, because he does 
not refer to Ezra's measures against mixed marriages, 
or to the publication of the law. His language, 
it is said, is that of Deuteronomy. He does not 
shew the familiarity with the Priests' Code which 
might be expected from one who came after Ezra, 
for, whatever view be taken of its origin, it can hardly 
be questioned that Ezra's Book of the Law was sub- 
stantially the same as our present Pentateuch. 1 

It may be doubted whether these considerations 
are sufficient to outweigh the close correspondence 
with the circumstances found by Nehemiah on his 
second visit. Malachi's severe reproof of the mixed 
marriages and the neglect to pay tithe gains force if 
these were matters in regard to which the people 
had made a solemn covenant some ten years before. 
It is not surprising that his language should agree 
most closely with the popular law-book of Deuter- 
onomy, with which he would naturally be most 
familiar. The balance of the evidence appears to be 
in favour of the later date. 

1 See Robertson Smith, Old Testament in Jewish Church, 2nd ed. 
pp. 425 ff., in favour of the earlier date. He concludes that he may 
have written after 458, but certainly wrote before 444. On the other 
side see Kuenen, Einl. pp. 412 ff., and Driver, Lit. of O.T. 6 p. 357. 


Nothing whatever is known of the history of /« XtOaeM 

T -Till a P r0 P er 

the prophet. It is even questionable whether we namet 
know his name. Malachi occurs nowhere else as 
a proper name ; and it is identical with the 
Hebrew word for my messenger in ch. iii. 1. If it 
is a proper name, it can hardly mean my messenger, 
but must be regarded as a shortened form for 
Malachiah, messenger of Jehovah. But the oldest 
versions do not recognise it as a proper name. 
The LXX, representing a slightly different read- 
ing, renders the title, Oracle of the word of the 
Lord against Israel by the hand of his messenger ; 
and the Targum adds the gloss, by the hand of 
my messenger, whose name is called Ezra the scribe. 
The identification of the author with Ezra can 
scarcely be more than a conjecture ; but it is 
important to observe the oldest exegetical tradition 
embodied in these versions. It is possible that the 
collector of the Minor Prophets had no information 
as to the name of the author of this prophecy, and 
prefixed to it a title suggested by ch. iii. 1, regarding 
the messenger who is there spoken of as the prophet 
himself. 1 By the second century A.D., however, 
" Malachi " had come to be regarded as a proper 
name, 2 and though it must remain uncertain whether 
it originally was so, it is convenient to continue to 
use it. 

1 Cp. Hagg. i. 13. 
2 In the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotiou. 



Contents of Malachi's prophecy is in the main, as we have 

the book. r r J 

seen, a reproof of the sins of his contemporaries. 
The ground of his appeal to Israel is, like that of his 
predecessors, the relation of Jehovah to the nation. 
Jehovah had loved them. He had chosen Jacob, 
while He rejected Esau. Did they ask for a proof 
of His love ? It was before their eyes in the fate 
of Edom. Israel had been restored to its own land, 
but Edom's heritage lay desolate, and Edom's inten- 
tion to restore his ruined cities was doomed to be 
frustrated (i. 2-5). 
neproof 0/ Malachi's first reproof is addressed to the priests 

tTie priests. 

for the negligent performance of their duties. They 
openly expressed their contempt for the altar which 
they served. They offered, or permitted the people 
to offer, blemished animals for sacrifice. It was a 
deliberate insult to Jehovah. Better close the Temple 
altogether than profane Jehovah's name in His own 
sanctuary ! Let them not delude themselves into 
fancying that the Temple at Jerusalem was the only 
place where acceptable worship could be offered. 
Already Jehovah's Name was held in honour through- 
out the world, and acceptable worship was being 
offered to Him everywhere even in heathen lands 
(i. 6-14). 

But the priests were the teachers of the nation 


as well as the guardians of its ritual ; and this 
responsible part of their duties they had neglected 
not less than the other. They had misled those 
whom they ought to have directed. Their practice 
was in startling contrast to the ideal of Levi's 
functions as the keeper of divine knowledge and the 
expounder of the Law (ii. 1-9). 

Here too Malachi bases his reproof upon the 
relation of Jehovah to the people as their Lord and 
Father (i. 6), and to the priests in virtue of the 
covenant He had made with Levi (ii. 4 ff.). The 
reverence of the son for his father, the fear of the 
servant for his master, were wholly wanting. For 
this the priests were to blame. They had corrupted 
the covenant of Levi. And their contempt for 
Jehovah had recoiled upon themselves. He had 
made them contemptible and base before all the 

Then, turning from the priests to the people, he Reproof of 

the people 

denounces the heathen marriages by which the M mixed 

° ' marriages 

holiness of the nation was being contaminated, and and divorce 
condemns the heartlessness of their conduct in 
repudiating their Israelite wives (ii. 10-16). Once 
more he bases his reproof upon the relation of Israel 
to God. It was the purpose of Jehovah for Israel, 
and the mutual relation of all the members of the 
nation to one another as children of one God, 
which made the perfidy of their conduct so heinous. 
Nay, it was the original plan and intention of the 


creation which made these causeless divorces contrary 
to the Divine Will. 1 
The day of There were sceptics among the people who 


denied God's justice, and doubted whether He would 
ever come to judge and to discriminate between 
the evil and the good. For them the message is 
that the day is speedily coming when the Lord, the 
Judge whose Presence they thoughtlessly desired, 
will suddenly appear in His Temple, in the person 
of the Angel of the Covenant. He will separate 
between the righteous and the wicked, and purify 
the ungodly nation in the furnace of judgement 
(ii. 17-iii. 6). 

How could they expect a blessing when they 
robbed God by withholding tithes and offerings ? 
Murmurers might complain that there was no 
advantage in serving God; but that day would 
distinguish between those who served Him, and 
those who served Him not. Destruction would be 
the lot of the one class, happiness and prosperity of 
the other (iii. 7-iv. 3). 

In his parting words he commends to them the 
law of Moses as the standard and the safeguard of 
conduct. By this law Israel is to rule its life, and so 
to await the fulfilment of the promise (iv. 4-6). 

1 The meaning of ch. ii. 15 is obscure : but on the whole I 
incline to the rendering: And did not One {i.e. God, cp. ii. 10) 
make [you both] ? . . . And why [did] the One [do so] ? Seeking a 
godly seed. The purpose of marriage was the maintenance of the 
Israelite race as the people of God, and this was defeated by mixed 
marriages and by divorce. 



In Malachi, we are already on the threshold of a style of 


new age. The characteristic peculiarity of his style 
marks the transition from the free discourse of the 
prophets to the didactic dialectic of the schools of 
the scribes. Some general truth is affirmed, or some 
ground of complaint is alleged ; the people's objec- 
tion to it is stated ; the objection is refuted, and 
warning or promise is pronounced. 1 

But Malachi's voice is still a true voice of pro- 
phecy. " With its clear insight into the real wants 
of the time, its stern reproof even of the priests 
themselves, and its bold exposition of the eternal 
truths and the certainty of a last judgement, this 
book closes the series of prophetic writings contained 
in the Canon in a manner not unworthy of such lofty 
predecessors." 2 

It has seemed strange to some that a prophet zeai/or 

the Law. 

should lay so much stress upon the external precepts 
of the law. But the ritual law was one of the means 
by which Israel was to be kept separate from the 
nations during the period upon which it was now 
entering. Men's attitude towards it could not be a 
matter of indifference. The neglect or observance of 
ritual rules was a measure of their regard for God. 
The offering of blemished or imperfect animals in 

1 See e.g. i. 2 ff., 6 ff. ; ii. 10, 14, 17 ; iii. 7 f., 13 
2 Evvald, Hist. v. 176 (E.T.). 


sacrifice indicated the irreverence of the worshipper's 
heart. And it is no mere formal compliance with 
ritual ordinances which Malachi enjoins. It is 
the whole law which he commends to his country- 
men as the divinely authorised standard of action. 
Those against whom Jehovah will be a swift witness 
when He comes to judgement are the sorcerers, the 
adulterers, the false swearers, those that oppress the 
hireling, the widow, and the fatherless, and defraud 
the stranger; all, in fact, whose conduct shews that 
they do not fear Jehovah (iii. 5). There was no 
antagonism between the law and the prophets ; and 
it was not unworthy of the latest voice of prophecy 
that it should bid Israel put its conscience to school 
with the law, during the centuries in which the voice 
of prophecy was to be silent, and a life and death 
conflict was to be waged with heathenism. 

It was the lesson needed for the age ; and if Israel 

misused the law, and forged fetters for itself out of 

what God designed for its support, the fault lay in 

them, and not in the prophet. 

Trus But while Malachi insists upon obedience to the 

worship not 

jelusailm r ^ual precepts of the law, and the importance of the 
Temple service, with true prophetic breadth of view 
he looks beyond the bounds of a narrow Judaism 
with its centre in Jerusalem to the prospect of a 
worship coextensive with the world. Whether the 
true meaning of the famous passage in ch. i. 11 is 
that the nations already in their worship paid an 


unconscious tribute to Jehovah as the Supreme 
Sovereign of the universe ; or that already numerous 
proselytes from heathenism, abandoning their idola- 
tries, had begun to worship Jehovah as the one true 
God ; or that the Jews of the Dispersion, scattered 
throughout the world in the midst of the Gentiles, 
rendered by their offerings of prayer and praise a 
more acceptable service to Jehovah than the careless 
priests in the Temple at Jerusalem by their heart- 
less and contemptible sacrifices, and that thereby 
Jehovah's Name was being magnified among the 
heathen, the lesson is the same. It is that these 
negligent priests were to know that Jehovah was not, 
as they might fancy, dependent upon them and upon 
the Temple at Jerusalem for acceptable service, for 
the world was His Temple, and even the heathen 
were learning to fear Him. 1 

1 The passage must be rendered as in R.V., My name is great 
among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered unto My 
name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the 
Gentiles. Comp. v. 14 : I am a great King . . . and My name is 
terrible among the Gentiles. It speaks of the present, and although 
it was to find a larger fulfilment in times to come, it is not simply 
a prediction of the future. But the first of the interpretations 
mentioned above can hardly be right. The name of Jehovah, as 
Oehler rightly observes (0. T. Theology, § 228), presupposes the 
divine revelation, and cannot refer to an unconscious worship. 
Nor does it seem likely that proselytes from heathenism were as 
yet numerous. The third explanation is the best. Probably some 
of the Jews at Jerusalem despised the Jews of the Dispersion (cp. 
Ezek. xi. 15), and refused to recognise their worship in heathen 
countries as true worship. They are rebuked by the emphatic de- 
claration that in every place Jehovah can be acceptably worshipped, 
and that while His Name is despised in the city of His choice by 


Duties 0/ Again, if Malachi lays stress on the importance of 

priests as . . 

teachers. the sacrificial functions of the priests, he lays equal 
stress on the importance of their functions as teachers. 
In noble words he describes the lofty ideal of Levi's 
calling. My covenant was with him of life and peace ; 
and I gave them to him that he might fear, and he 
feared Me and stood in awe of My name. The law of 
truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not 
found in his lips; he walked with Me in peace and 
uprightness, and did turn many away from iniquity. 
For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they 
should seek the law at his mouth : for he is the mes- 
senger of Jehovah of hosts (ii. 5 ff.). That is not the 
language of a petrified legalism. 

The coming Lastly, the closing prophecy of the book calls for 

of the Lord. _ J ' 7 . 

special notice. The prediction of the messenger, who 
should come to prepare the way for the advent of the 
Lord, Elijah the prophet, the mediator between the 
old and the new, the herald of the day of judgement, 1 
was, as our Lord teaches, fulfilled in the mission of John 
the Baptist. In bidding us recognise John as the mes- 
senger He bids us recognise Himself as the Lord, the 
angel of the covenant. He bids us remember that if 

His own people, it is magnified among the heathen. The words 
are an anticipation of John iv. 21. 

1 It seems best to identify Elijah the prophet (iv. 5) with the 
messenger who is to be sent to prepare Jehovah's way before Him 
(iii. 1). This messenger is to be distinguished from the messenger 
(or angel) of the covenant. As the angel of Jehovah represented 
Jehovah to Israel of old, so the angel of the covenant represents 
the Lord as He comes to judge. 


the primary object of His Coming was not judgement 
but mercy, yet none the less judgement must follow 
upon His coming (John ix. 39). He was the touch- 
stone by which the hearts of men were tried, and 
the distinction between the righteous and the wicked 
made manifest. 

As we turn the page in our English Bibles, 
which, unlike the Hebrew canon, place the prophets 
last in the Old Testament, and read of the fulfilment 
of the words of Malachi in the mission of the 
Baptist, we are apt to forget the four centuries 
of history which intervened, centuries of discipline 
through struggle and suffering and weary waiting 
and baffled hopes, until the fulness of the times was 
come and the Christ was born. The Lord came to 
His temple ; not, as men might have expected, with 
outward show, and visible manifestations which none 
could mistake. He came, to be even now a refiner 
and purifier of silver, to try the hearts of men ; to 
begin that work of judgement which will not be 
finally consummated till He has come again and 
judged the world in righteousness. 

Note A. — On Nehemiah's Governorships. 

It is commonly supposed that Neheiniah remained at 
Jerusalem as governor from 445 to 433, that he then re- 
turned to Susa, and after a year or so went back to Jerusalem. 
It seems however most improbable that the evils described in 
Neh. xiii can have become so serious during so short an 
absence, and accordingly some have thought that certain days 


(xiii. 6) denotes a much longer period, and that Nehemiah'a 
second visit to Jerusalem was not till several years later. It 
must however have been before 425, the date of Artaxerxes' 

It may however be questioned whether the common 
view that Nehemiah remained at Jerusalem from 445 to 433 
is correct. (1) His request to the king (Neh. ii. 5, 6) con- 
templates absence from the court for a limited time only. 
(2) The events recorded in Neh. ii-xii appear to be consecu- 
tive, and to occupy a space of less than a year. (3) As has 
been already remarked, it seems impossible to suppose that 
the abuses detailed in ch. xiii had sprung up during a brief 
absence ; and yet it is certainly unnatural to understand cer- 
tain days to mean several years. 

May not the meaning of ch. xiii. 6 be as follows ? And 
in all this I was not at Jerusalem : but in the two and thirtieth 
year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I came to the king, and at 
the end of certain days I obtained leave of the king, and came to 
Jerusalem, etc. Nehemiah's first mission was temporary ; 
when he had completed the work for which he came, he re- 
turned to Susa, after an absence of perhaps not more than a 
year in all. He remained at Susa until the thirty-second 
year of Artaxerxes, when he again obtained leave to go to 
Jerusalem. I render '3 by but, after the negative of the 
preceding clause, according to the regular Hebrew idiom. I 
understand the words I came to the king not of his return from 
Jerusalem, but of his going to the palace to serve in his turn 
as cupbearer. It may be inferred from chaps, i, ii that his 
attendance was not constant, as he does not appear to have 
been in the royal presence until some months after he re- 
ceived his brother's deplorable account of the condition of 
Jerusalem. At the end of certain days will then naturally 
mean when his term of attendance was over. If then Nehe- 
miah went back to Susa after only a few months' stay at 
Jerusalem, it is easy to understand how the enthusiasm which 


he excited may have rapidly cooled, and the old abuses may 
have sprung up again till they reached the extent which he 
found when he returned after twelve years' absence. 

At first sight ch. v. 14 appears to be irreconcilable with 
this view. It is, however, not impossible that the dates have 
been inserted by the compiler who misunderstood ch. xiii. 6 ; 
or that Nehemiah continued to be nominally governor, and 
was entitled to the governor's allowances though not resident 
in Judaea. 

2 L 


iravra kou ev iracriv XPI2T02. 
Christ is all and in all. 

Colossians iii. 11. 

iva rj 6 0EO2 iravTa ev TrafTLV. 
That God may be all in all. 

1 Corinthians xv. 28. 



Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets : I came 
not to destroy, but to fulfil. — St. Matthew v. 17. 

I have endeavoured in this course of lectures to arcum- 

., . « . „, stantial 

exhibit the work ot each successive member of the origin of 


goodly fellowship of the prophets in relation to the 
circumstances of his own age. I have endeavoured 
to shew how the utterances of the prophets arose 
naturally (as we speak) out of those circumstances, 
though at the same time they claimed to be the 
authorised spokesmen and accredited ambassadors 
of Jehovah, and by the loftiness of their morality 
and the spirituality of their religion, by the depth of 
their insight and the sureness of their foresight, they 
justified their bold claim to be filled with the Spirit 
of God. The teaching of the prophets took its rise 
out of the particular needs of different ages, as the 
teaching of the Apostles recorded for us in the Epistles 


took its rise out of the particular needs of the different 
churches to which they wrote. The utterances of the 
prophets are no abstract declarations of doctrine, or 
expositions of morality, or predictions of the future, 
unconnected with life and history. They have 
strength and reality and permanence because they 
deal with living men, because they shew God work- 
ing in the world, because they let us see how " in 
every age He takes man as he is that He may make 
him what he is not." 1 
it* unity in We have seen that the prophets necessarily spoke 


the language of their own times, and must be inter- 
preted and estimated in relation to them. It was not 
given to them all severally to declare the whole 
counsel of God : one enforces one truth, another 
emphasises another: here we see progress, sudden 
and startling; there to all appearance, retrogression, 
as though the people were unable to bear the full 
truth, and must be taken back to more rudimentary 
instruction. But with all the variety of gifts and 
powers in the series of prophets whose writings have 
come down to us from a period of more than three 
centuries (to take the narrowest limits), with all the 
difference of the special circumstances under which 
they laboured, and the audiences which they ad- 
dressed, there is a unity of purpose which bespeaks 
a common source and origin for the message which is 
one in essence, though manifold in form. 

1 Lux Mundi, p. 82. 



Prophecy was no premature unrolling of the his- 
tory of the future to gratify an idle curiosity ; it was 
never separated from its ethical end. 1 But from first 
to last it pointed forward to a great divine purpose 
slowly being evolved in the course of ages, to " some 
far off divine event," towards which the history of 
Israel and the history of the world were moving. 
At one time that event seemed close at hand, as 
though the clouds might break at any instant and 
reveal the splendour of the divine presence : and 
then the hope was disappointed, only to be reaffirmed 
with fresh confidence. Some partial accomplishment 
of promise served as an earnest of greater things to 
come, and gave assurance that it must yet find a 
more complete fulfilment. But who could rise from 
the study of the Old Testament prophets if the 
history of their hopes had finally ended there, with- 
out a keen sense of disappointment and failure ? as 
one who might find in some lonely desert the 
foundations of a vast building laid, and costly 
materials prepared in abundance, with plans and 
sketches suggestive of majestic perfection, but all 
abandoned, unused, forgotten. 

Truly if the work of the prophets had ended with 
their own age, it would have been a splendid testi- 
mony for the truths of morality which find their 
1 Cp. Tholuck, Die Propheten, § 2. 


response in the enlightened conscience, and for the 
aspirations towards lofty ideals of which man is 
capable ; yet we should have felt — if we can con- 
ceive the possibility — a numbing sense of incom- 
pleteness and want and failure ; we should have 
been compelled to say that they could not really 
have been what they claimed to be, the mouthpieces 
of an unique divine revelation. We should have 
been forced to confess that the words of prophecy 
were, after all, human ideals and not divine ideas. 

For if prophecy was, as it professed to be, an in- 
spired glimpse into the eternal present of the divine 
mind, it must needs foresee the divine purpose for 
mankind unfolding itself in time, and that foresight 
must in due course be realised in facts. When the 
curtain falls on the stage of Old Testament prophecy 
at the close of the fifth century B.C., we feel that 
the riddle waits for its answer, the drama lacks its 

Those strange centuries of silence! How sorely 
waiting faith must have been tried in the days when 
there was no prophet, and the vision seemed to tarry 
while generation after generation passed away ! Yet 
those centuries were doing their appointed work. 
Slowly the people were absorbing the spirit of the 
old truths, and being prepared for the new revelation. 
Slowly they were learning through the discipline of 
failure that they could not save themselves ; false 
ideals were being swept away ; the spiritual sense was 


being developed in the faithful ' remnant ' which 
would enable them to receive the Christ. 

Then in the fulness of the times, the Christ came, 
gathering up into Himself and uniting in His own 
Person all those lines of prophecy which had seemed 
so strangely inconsistent and irreconcilable, filling 
them with a new meaning, vivifying them with a 
new energy. Here was the answer to all men's 
hopes ; nay, vastly more ; a combination, unique, 
unthought of, beyond the boldest venture of faith 
and hope to anticipate, needing the humblest teach- 
ableness to receive when offered for acceptance. 


The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It christ 
was the function of prophecy to prepare for Him. mentof 


It is the function of prophecy to bear witness to 
Him. Through the scriptures of the prophets the 
mystery, kept in silence from times eternal but now 
manifested, is made known unto all the nations unto 
obedience of faith (Eom. xvi. 25, 26). Prophecy 
first becomes fully intelligible in the light reflected 
from His Person and offices, His teaching, His life 
and work, His kingdom. 

(i) The kings of Judah ruled as the representa- in His 

Person and 

tives of Jehovah, Who was the true King of Israel. °# c «*; 
Not seldom their conduct was in flat contradiction 
to their calling. But Prophecy pointed steadily 


forward to an ideal King, Who should be a true 
representative of the nation to Jehovah, and of 
Jehovah to the nation ; the worthy head of the 
divine kingdom upon earth. In that future age to 
which the gaze of every prophet is directed, Zion 
becomes the centre of instruction for the world. 
From Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word oj 
Jehovah from Jerusalem (Isa. ii. 3). In the days when 
the kingdom was tottering to its fall, and Israel was 
about to pass under the yoke of a heathen power, 
the advent of a native ruler is predicted who would 
have priestly rights of access to the presence of God 
(Jer. xxx. 21): and when the kingdom had finally 
passed away, the same idea is presented by a sym- 
bolical action of deepest significance, and the hopes 
of the restored community are directed towards the 
figure of a royal priest who should rule as the perfect 
representative of Jehovah (Zech. vi. 12, 13). 

The scene changes ; and mysteriously there arises 
out of the nation which had failed to fulfil its mission 
that unique figure of the Servant of the Lord who 
renders the obedience which Israel had refused, and 
through suffering and death and life makes atonement 
for the sin of many. 

Yet again, by the side of these varied anticipations 
of a great Deliverer, prophecy speaks of an Advent 
of Jehovah Himself, to judge the world and reign 
among His people. 

Already, even in the Old Testament, some of 


these lines of prophecy had seemed to meet in a 
single person. The king is invested with a divine 
character : the offices of priest and king are sym- 
bolically united : still more startlingly, Zion's king 
comes to her in the guise of the Servant of Jehovah, 
who has triumphed through suffering. 

But it was reserved for the fulfilment to shew 
how God's thoughts are greater than man's thoughts, 
for in the Person of Jesus Christ the various lines 
all meet, in a way unimaginable beforehand to human 
reason. In Him God comes to visit His people. 
He Who is very God fulfils as man the Servant's 
work, and passes through suffering and humiliation 
to glory. The royal Priest offers Himself as victim 
for the world, and, exalted to His throne, lives to 
make eternal intercession. 

Men could not have drawn from the Old Testa- 
ment prophecies the portrait of Him who was to 
come. To many the guise in which He came was a 
bitter disappointment. Those who had formed their 
conception of what the Messiah must be from a 
partial study of the Scriptures refused to acknow- 
ledge Him at all. But surely if slowly, the Church 
of the First Days, as under the guidance of the Holy 
Ghost it pondered on the Person and the Work of 
the Lord, recognised in Him the union of the various 
elements which had been foreshadowed in many 
fragments and in many fashions, welcomed Him as 
her Priest, her Prophet, her Example, her King, 



her God ; and worshipped in adoring love and 
inHisteach- (ii) And as Christ in His Person and His Offices 
summed up and fulfilled all that prophecy had fore- 
shadowed ; so in His teaching He took up, united, 
deepened, vitalised, the old doctrines of the prophets. 
For He came not to annul or abrogate the Law and 
the Prophets, but to fulfil. He reaffirmed the great 
moral and religious demands which God had made of 
old, of truth and righteousness and love and reveience 
and humility, and all that combines to make up the 
holiness to which Israel was called, the perfection 
which is the aim of the Christian life (Matt. v. 48). 
He concentrated and animated with a new intensity 
" the passion for righteousness and the hatred of 
iniquity " which had been growing through successive 
ages in strength and purity. 1 In the old days the 
prophets had pointed to the knowledge of God as the 
source of life ; and now He came to bring a new idea 
of the relation of God to man, and to base man's 
duty of loving obedience on " the revelation of the 

The prophets had ever been turning men's thoughts 
inwards, teaching that no formal observance of out- 
ward ceremonies could satisfy the requirements of the 
Searcher of hearts. Christ re-enacts the old Law in 
positive precepts, and pierces to the inward motives 
of thought and will as the essential criterion of 

1 Dean Church, Discipline of the Christian Character, p. 78. 


character and conduct. The new covenant of the 
law written in the heart finds its fulfilment in the 
dispensation of the Spirit (Jer. xxxi. 31 ff.). God is 
spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him 
in spirit and in truth. It was only by gradual stages 
that individual rights and responsibilities came to be 
recognised in the old time ; but Christ proclaims the 
personal relation to Himself which consecrates the 
meanest, the inalienable sanctity and responsibility 
of each separate life, each single soul, without isolating 
one from another, or weakening the truth of that 
corporate unity and responsibility which were so 
clearly understood of old. 

(iii) Again, as we study the life and work of m uis life, 

and work '. 

Christ, the fulfilment of prophecy meets our view 
throughout. Step by step the prophets had taught 
a fuller knowledge of the nature and the character 
of God, and as men came to know more of His 
transcendent majesty and holiness, the gulf between 
Him and sinful man appeared to widen. God seemed 
to be farther and farther withdrawn from the world 
of sense ; till in the days when prophecy had ceased, 
and men were pondering on the contrast between the 
present and the past, they ceased to pronounce the 
sacred Name of revelation which had been the pledge 
of the living Presence and Power of God in the midst 
of His people. 

Side by side with that deeper knowledge of God 
was developed a clearer recognition of the nature of 


sin. The prophets affirm the possibility and the 
efficacy of repentance, and hold out the offer of 
forgiveness. Yet how was the fountain to be opened 
for sin and for uncleanness ? Just as men grew to 
realise the unapproachable awfulness of God, they 
came to recognise their own corruption and alienation 
from Him. The gulf between God and man seemed 
widening hopelessly. 

And then Christ came ; and in His own Person 
united man to God — mysterious truth, the full 
meaning of which is only slowly being apprehended 
in the course of ages : by His life of perfect obedi- 
ence He shewed to man a new ideal and a new 
possibility : by His atoning death He reconciled man 
to God, and removed the barrier which hindered ■ 
men from approaching Him with filial confidence. 

And then by His triumphant Kesurrection He 
swallowed up death for ever, and destroyed the veil 
spread over all the nations. Little, strangely little, 
have the prophets to say about a personal immor- 
tality : yet this was the necessary conclusion from 
the premiss of that fellowship with God which they 
were constantly proclaiming as the goal of Israel's 
calling : this, however dimly they may have antici- 
pated it, was the necessary fulfilment of their hopes. 

And thus, in a larger sense than they could 
themselves have foreseen, the prophets' promise of 
peace — peace for Israel, peace even for the nations, 1 

1 Isa. ix. 6, 7 ; Zech. ix. 10. 



was realised in the work of Christ for the world, in 
Him Who came to guide our fed into the way of 

(iv) Yet once again : the Kingdom of Christ is in His king 
the fulfilment of prophecy. The ruling idea of the 
Old Testament is the establishment of God's King- 
dom in the world. The divine purpose for Israel was 
that they should be Jehovah's people, and that He 
should be their God, in the fullest sense of the words. 
But this is but a fragment of God's counsel : it is but 
the means to the establishment of His universal 
Kingdom throughout the world. Whatever may 
have been the spirit of later Judaism, no one can 
truly charge the prophets with a ' narrow particu- 
larism ' or a ' nationalistic bigotry.' They may indeed 
at one time have looked forward to Israel's becoming 
the visible and temporal centre of the divine Kingdom 
in the world, yet it soon becomes plain that it is a 
spiritual supremacy which Israel was to attain. They 
could but embody the essential truth in the language 
of their own time. But Christ came, and again pro- 
claimed the fulfilment of all and more than all for 
which the prophets had looked with yearning eyes, 
founding a spiritual Kingdom which knows no limits 
of race or country or class or space or time ; uniting 
all men in an equal fellowship of blessing and 
privilege and hope. 



The nature The manifold outlines, types, foreshadowings, 

of fulfil- 

ment. hopes, aspirations of the Old Testament were gathered 

together in Christ ; they were filled with a larger 
sense, and animated with a new spirit. The fulfil- 
ment did not come in the form which might have 
been expected, and which many did expect, who were 
content to look at some partial aspect of Israel's 
hope, and to leave out of account other elements 
which they could not reconcile into one consistent 
picture. Indeed it was only slowly, through the 
teaching of the Holy Spirit, that the Apostles them- 
selves came to see how truly and completely Christ 
had fulfilled the ancient prophecies. The corre- 
spondence of the fulfilment with the prophecy is not 
(as some would urge) forced and arbitrary. It is 
"the consummation in life of that which was pre- 
pared in life." 1 It does not depend on an exact 
equivalence of circumstantial details. Such details 
there are. They serve to attract attention, and invite 
to a deeper study. But it is not on these that we 
ought to dwell. They are but the frame of the 
picture, the setting of the jewel. Eather it is to the 
great lines of thought, the underlying principles, the 
ruling ideas, that our attention should be directed. 
We watch them in the Old Testament, working for- 

1 Bishop Westcott, Hebrews, p. 480. 



ward to an unknown, unseen, unimaginable end ; 
and we see them meeting in Christ, not in mere 
mechanical or formal union, but in a wholly new 
combination, the spring of fresh forces and larger 
hopes for the world. The old things are passed away : 
nay rather, behold, they are become new. 

Old Testament prophecy is still a living message Permanent 


for the Christian Church. Its fulfilment does not ofo.T. 
mean that its use is at an end, so that it may be laid 
on one side, because its purpose and significance are 
exhausted. Nor does it mean that for us the sole 
use of prophecy is as one of the credentials which 
attest Christ's mission. It is this, and as such it 
would claim our reverent study ; but it is far more. 
It is not fulfilled and exhausted, but fulfilled and 
illuminated, and we must read it in the light of that 

Thence we may derive comfort and courage, as we 
watch the methods by which God works out His pur- 
poses, educates the world, establishes His kingdom 
in it. There we may see that He is indeed the 
living God, Who rules in the affairs of men : the 
Alpha and the Omega, the Lord God, which is and 
which was, and which is to come, the All-Sovereign 
(Eev. i. 8). The inspired optimism of the prophets, 
maintained in the teeth of present appearances by 
their resolute faith in Jehovah, supplies a wholesome 
antidote to the temptation to a despairing pessimism, 
so commonly felt in the present day. That optimism 
2 M 


was justified in the event, though the event was long 
delayed ; and it bids us look forward with confidence, 
though the vision may yet tarry long. 

And the ethical teaching of the prophets still 
abides for our instruction. It is illuminated, 
elevated, fulfilled by the teaching of our Lord, but 
it is not superseded. Some rudimentary elements 
there are in it, which fall away in the fuller growth ; 
some temporary forms which belong only to the old 
order. But the foundation of eternal truth abides 
and lives. " As long as the world lasts," wrote one 
whose view of the Old Testament is often stimulat- 
ing if inadequate, " all who want to make progress 
in righteousness will come to Israel for inspiration, 
as to the people who have had the sense for right- 
eousness most glowing and strongest ; and in hearing 
and reading the words Israel has uttered for us, 
carers for conduct will find a glow and a force they 
could find nowhere else." J Yes! for they are gleams 
from the eternal Sun of Righteousness, Who has 
arisen upon us with healing in His wings. 

Those sacred writings are still able to make wise 
unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus 
(2 Tim. iii. 15). And whatsoever things were written 
aforetime were written for our learning, that through 
patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might 
have our hope (Rom. xv. 4). 

Tlie testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 

1 M. Arnold, Literature and Dogma, p. 42. 


We see the work of Eedemption, for which prophecy- 
prepared the way, carried to a point of completion 
which is in itself a new and unique beginning ; and, 
viewed in the light of the fulfilment which it has 
already received, prophecy bids us rest assured that 
this work will not fail or be frustrated, but will 
finally reach that supreme conclusion, when God 
shall be all in all. 



Prophets of 


Kings of 


Kings of 

Prophets of 


Contemporart I 







Revolt of 

Mesh a 
The 'Moabite 

Stone ' : c. 






c. 846 (?) 





c. 837-817 (?) 




* Elisha 

Jehu pays 
tribute to 






II. r 








c. 760 










' c. 755-740 



III (Pul) 



Prophets of 



c. 735- 

725 (?) 

Kings of 




Kings of 


738 : 
736 ! : 



Judahin- 7 
vaded by 









of Judah 



Prophets of Contemporary 
Israel. Events. 


Fall of Samaria and 
end of the Northern 

Fall of Damas- 

IV. 727-722 


Battle of 
Siege of Aslidod 



Assur-bani-pal j 


Sack of Thebes , 



Prophets of Judah. 

Kings ok Judah. 





Nahum c. 640 




c. 630-622 



of Reformation 






c. 609-607 






Fall of Nineveh 

Jeremiah 627-577 


first invasion of 
J udaea 


Siege of Jerusalem : 
first deportation 





Battle of Car- 



Ezekiel 592-570 


Fall of Jerusalem : 
second deporta- 

Third deportation 





'Release of Jehoiachin 


Evil Merodach 







Cyrus conquers Astyages 

Isaiah xl-lxvi 
c. 546-540 


Conquests of Cyrus in W. Asia 
Capture of Babylon 


Return of the Exiles 


Foundation of the Temple 




Darius Hystaspes 

Haggai 520 


Zechariah 520-518 


Dedication of the Temple 


Ionian Revolt 




Revolt of Egypt 

Zechariah ix-xiv (?) 



Isaiah xxiv-xxvii (?) 


Thermopylae and Salamis 




Artaxerxes I. Longimanus 


Revolt of Egypt 


Mission of Ezra 


Mission of Nehemiah 

Malachi c. 435 


Second Mission of Nehemiah 


Xerxes II 



The decipherment of the Cuneiform Inscriptions has raised 
considerable difficulties in regard to the chronology of the 
eighth century b.c The Assyrians had what the Hebrews 
had not, an exact system of chronology ; and if the decipher- 
ment of the inscriptions is to be trusted, account must be 
taken of the following dates. Jehu is mentioned as paying 
tribute to Assyria on the " black obelisk " of Shalmaneser II 
c. 842 ; Uzziah was still reigning c. 740 ; Menahem paid 
tribute to Tiglath-Pileser in 738 ; the invasion of Judah by 
Pekah and Rezin took place in 734 ; Samaria fell in or 
about 722 ; Sennacherib's invasion of Judah took place in 
701. No reconstruction of the chronology is free from con- 
siderable arbitrariness ; and the tables given here, which are 
derived from various sources, can only claim to offer a pro- 
visional and tentative solution. A few special points may 
be noticed. According to the revised chronology the fall of 
the Northern Kingdom after the death of Jeroboam II was 
much more rapid than the Ussherian chronology given in 
the margin of the A.V. represents it to have been. The two 
interregnums of eleven years after the death of Jeroboam II, 
and nine years after the death of Pekah, which that chron- 
ology interpolates, have no support in the history and must 
certainly be struck out, reducing the period by twenty years. 
But further, if the length of Menahem's reign is rightly given 
as ten years, and he was still on the throne in 738, Jero- 
boam II must have reigned till 749 or even later, according 
to some chronologers as late as 741. At the most, less than 
thirty years, and possibly only twenty years, elapsed between 
his death and the capture of Samaria. 

The Fall of Samaria is dated in the sixth year of 
Hezekiah, and the invasion of Sennacherib in his fourteenth 
year ; but obviously both dates cannot be right, if these 


events happened in 722 and 701, as seems to be established 
from the Assyrian Inscriptions. I prefer to regard the first 
date as correct, so that the sixth year of Hezekiah = 722 ; 
and to suppose that the date of the fourteenth year of 
Hezekiah in 2 Kings xviii. 13 is misplaced, and should 
really refer to Hezekiah's illness, and not to Sennacherib's 
invasion. Hezekiah's life was prolonged fifteen years, and 
he reigned twenty-nine years, so that his illness would fall 
in his fourteenth year. 

The chronology of the later period presents fewer diffi- 
culties. The dates given by different chronologers vary by 
a year or two, according as 588, 587, or 586 is taken for 
the date of the Fall of Jerusalem. 


Ezra iii, iv 
Nehemiah xiii. 6 
Isaiah iv. 2 . 

v. 25 ft 

vii. 14 ff. 

ix. 1 ff. 

xi. 1 IT. 


lii. 13 ff. 

Ixi. 1 ff. 
Hosea i. 10 ff. 

i. 11 


xiii. 14 

Joel ii. 23 
Obadiah 12 ff. 
Micah ii. 6 

ii. 8 

ii. 12, 13 

iv, v 

v. 2-6 

vi, vii 
Habakkuk ii. 4 

Haggai ii. 7 . 
Zechariah iv 

vi. 9 ff 
ix. 9, 10 
ix. 13 
xiv. 5 
Malachi i. 11 . 






ff., 288 


Ahaz, 160 

Amos, date, 84 ; contrasted with 
Hosea, 85. 137 ff. ; circum- 
stances of the time, 86 ff. ; 
personal history, 90 ff. ; pro- 
phecies against nations, 93 ff. ; 
view of Israel's sins, 95 ff. ; 
attitude towards the calf-wor- 
ship, 96 ; Jehovah's require- 
ments, 99 ; promises of the 
restoration of Israel, 100, 103 ; 
theology, 100 ; allusions to 
history of Israel, 104 ; lessons 
of the book, 106 ; structure of 
the book, 107 ; names of God 
in, 108 

Carchemish, battle of, 296 
Christ the goal of prophecy, 519 

ff. ; in His Person and offices, 

521 ; in His teaching, 524 ; 

in His life and work, 525 ; in 

His kingdom, 527 
Chronology, 536 
Criticism of O.T., 21, 149 
Cyrus, 356, 414 

Day of Jehovah, 73, 98, 158, 
263 ff., 474, 506, etc. 

Exiles in Babylonia, their con- 
dition, 327 ; their character, 
329, 366 

Ezekiel, his history, 326 ; influ- 

ence of his position on his 
work, 329 ff. ; methods of 
teaching, 331 ff. ; compared 
with Jeremiah, 334 ; arrange- 
ment of book, 335 ; importance 
of his work for his age, 337 ; 
principles of his teaching, 342 
ff. ; doctrine of individual 
responsibility, 345 ; attitude 
towards ceremonial, 346 ; no 
mere formalist, 347 
Ezra, 496 

False prophets, 221, 305 
Fulfilment of prophecy, 15 ff. , 

139, 197, 323, 349, 397, 406, 

475, 519 ff., 528, etc. 

Habakkuk, date, 271 ; con- 
tents of book, 274 ff. ; its 
lessons, 284 ; integrity and 
structure, 285 ; translation of 
ch. iii, 288 

Haggai, circumstances of the 
time, 414 ff. ; his ministry, 
422 ff. ; importance of his work, 
430 ; universalism, 432 ; Mes- 
sianic hope, 433 

Hezekiah, 163 

Holiness, 175 ff. 

Holy One of Israel, 177 ff. 

Hosea, date, 109 ff. ; circum- 
stances of time, 112 ; a native 
of Ephraim, 117 ; his personal 



history the key to his teaching, 
119 ff. ; the mond difficulty of 
his story, 121 ff. ; view of 
Israel as Jehovah's wife, 125 
ff., and son, 130; the covenant 
with Israel, 129 ff. ; Jehovah's 
requirements, 131 f. ; Israel's 
sins, 132 ff. ; punishment, 134, 
and restoration, 135 ff. ; Hosea 
contrasted with Amos, 85, 137 
ff. ; silent about the nations, 

137 ; depth of his teaching, 

138 ; analysis of the book, 
141 ff. 

Isaiah, Book of, non - Isaianic 
portions, 148 ; structure of, 
199 ff., 369 ff. 

Isaiah the sou of Amoz, raised up 
at a critical epoch, 143 ; modes 
of work, 145 ; call, 150 ; cir- 
cumstances of time, 154 ff. ; 
leading ideas of his theology, 

171 ff., the majesty of Jehovah, 

172 ff., aud holiness of 
Jehovah, 175 ff. ; the Holy 
One of Israel, 177 ff. ; Mes- 
sianic prophecies, 185 ff. ; 
prophecies against the nations, 
196 ff. ; contrasted with Micah, 
205 ff. 

Isaiah of the Exile (xl-lxvi), 
date, 353 ff. ; place of writing, 
357 ; authorship, 358 ; style, 
360 ; distinctive ideas, ib. ; 
timeliness of the prophecy, 
365 ; character of the exiles, 366 
plan of the book, 369 ff. 
theology of Isaiah xl-lxvi, 
374 ff. ; contrast between 
God and man, 375 ; between 
Jehovah aud idols, 376 
Jehovah's righteousness, 382 
holiness, 383 ; name, 384 
glory, ib. 

the Servant of Jehovah, 3S5 
ff. ; eschatology, 400 ff. 

Isaiah xxiv-xxvii, characteristics, 
479; contents, 481 ff. ; distinctive 
ideas, 485 ff. ; authorship and 

date, 488 ff. ; position and pur- 
pose, 491 ff. 

Jehoahaz, 294 

Jehoiachin, 297 

Jehoiakim, 294 

Jehovah, ix, 108 ; glory of, 171, 
343, 384 ; majesty of, 172 ; 
holiness of, 175 ff., 344, 383 ; 
Name of, 344, 384 ; righteous- 
ness of, 382 

Jeremiah, history of his times 
292 ff. ; call, 301 ; character, 
301 ; mission, 302 ; modes of 
work, 303 ; sufferings, 304 ff. ; 
complaints, 306 ; a type of 
Christ, 309 ; his teaching, 
ib. ; Israel's sins, 310 ff. , 
and punishment, 314 ; pre- 
dictions of restoration, 315 
ff. ; the Messianic king, 317 ; 
the regenerate city, 318 ; 
the new covenant, 319 ; the 
Presence of Jehovah, 320 ; 
doctrine of personal respon- 
sibility, ib. ; destiny of the 
nations, 321 ; compared with 
Ezekiel, 334 

Jeroboam II, 87 ff. 

Joel, a native of Judah, 46 ; con- 
tents of book, 48 ff. ; occasion, 
51 ff. ; allegorical interpreta- 
tion discussed, 53 ff. ; apoca- 
lyptic theory untenable, 55 ; 
date, 57 ff. ; relation to Obad- 
iah, 40 ; to Amos, 63 ; to 
Ezekiel, 66 ; to Zechariah xii- 
xiv, 71 ; teaching, 73 ff. ; its 
limitations, 76 

Josiah, 292 

Jotham, 155 

Judah, kingdom of, internal con- 
ditions under Jotham, 155 ff., 
214 ; under Ahaz, 210, 216, 
223 ff. ; history and condition 
during last half-century of its 
existence, 239 ff., 262, 292 ff. 

Malachi, date, 500 ; personality, 
503 ; contents of book, 504 ; 



style, 507 ; zeal for the law, 
ib. ; universalism, 508; Messianic 
prophecy, 510 

Messianic prophecy in Amos, 
103 ; Haggai, 432 ff. ; Hosea, 
139; Isaiah, 185 ff., 385 ff., 
486 ff. ; Jeremiah, 317 ff. ; 
Malachi, 510 ; Micah, 217 ff. ; 
Zechariah, 432 ff., 439 ff, 
463 ff. ; Zephaniah, 266 

Micah, contrasted with Isaiah, 
205 ; his home, 206 ; share in 
Hezekiah's reformation, 208 ; 
length of ministry, 210 ; 
message of judgement, 212, 
217 ; its causes, 213 ; social 
sins, 214 ; prophecies of res- 
toration, 217 ff. : Messianic 
prophecies, 217 ff. ; conflict 
with false prophets, 221 ; 
popular and prophetic religion, 
223 ; contents and integrity of 
hook, 229 ff. 

Nahum, date, 244 ; place of writ- 
ing, 248 ; contents of book, 
251 ff. ; teaching, 255 ff. ; its 
limitations, 256 ; contrasted 
with Zephaniah, 258 

National personality, 131 

Nations, judgement of the, 76, 
etc. ; moral responsibility of, 
93; destiny of, 196 ff., 217 
ff. ; 266, 321, 400 ff., 432, 
485 ff, 508, etc. 

Nehemiah, 497 ; his governor- 
ships, 511 

Nineveh, 249 ff. 

Northern Kingdom, internal con- 
dition under Jeroboam, 88 ; 
after his death, 115 ff. ; rapid 
decline of, 112 ff. 

Obadiah, contents of book, 33 ; 
occasion and date, 34 ; rela- 
tion to Jeremiah, 35 ; to Joel 
and Amos, 40 ; teaching, 41 ; 
fulfilment, 43 

Old Testament, to be studied as 
the record of the preparation 

for the Incarnation, 4 ff. ; 
critically and historically, 12, 
148 ff., 362 ; fulfilment of, 528; 
permanent value, 529 

Priestly type of the Messiah, 
318, 429, 434, 439 ff. 

Prophecy, the argument from, 7 
ff. ; fulfilment of, 15 ff., 519 ff, 
528, etc. ; limitations of, 76, 
137, 255 ff. ; circumstantial 
origin of, 12 ff., 359, 517 ; 
conditional character, 198, 
408 ; perspective of, 198, 407 ; 
permanent significance of, 529 

Prophets, their work, 13 ff. ; 
chronological order of, 18 ff. ; 
character and arrangement of 
books, 23 ff. ; importance of 
studying, 26 ff. ; to be studied 
historically, 29 ff. 

Pul = Tiglath-Pileser, 111 

Rabsaris, 168 
Rabshakeh, 168 

Return from Babylon, 415 ; its 
significance, 417 

Scythian invasion, 240, 261 
Servant of Jehovah, 385 ff. 
Shalman, 112 
Sheshbazzar, 435 

Tartan, 168 

Temple, its importance after the 
Return, 431 

Uzziah, 154 

Zechariah, circumstances of the 
time, 414 ff. ; his ministry, 
423 ff. ; visions, 424 ff. ; im- 
portance of his work, 430 ; 
universalism, 432 ; Messianic 
hope, 433 

Zechariah ix-xiv, critical prob- 
lems, 442 ; divisions, 443 ; 
date, 445 ff. ; contents, 456 ff. ; 
distinctive ideas, 463 ff. ; the 
Messianic king, 463; therejected 



shepherd, 466 ; the penitent 
people, 471 ; the divine sove- 
reignty, 473 

importance of the book of 
Zechariah in Messianic pro- 
phecy, 435, 476 
Zedekiah, 297 

Zephaniah, contrasted with Na- 
hum, 258 ; date, 259 ; occasion, 
261 ; condition of Judah, 262 ; 
breadth of view, and depth of 
insight, 263 ff. ; future of the 
nations, 266 

Zerubbabel, 435 


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